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Monday, January 14, 2013

John 2:16 - Do You Worship in a Market Place?

John 2:16:
To those who sold doves, he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”

Can you imagine the sounds and smells that were in the temple that day? When you gather a bunch of people in a tight space and bring in livestock and other commodity trading, you have the makings of a bazaar or farmer’s market.

The temple was a glorious place — a place where the very surroundings gave evidence of God’s majesty. In fact, even though they shouldn't have, many Jews of that day swore by the gold of the temple!

But, as it was, a visitor to the temple was met with a cacophony of noise, smells and — mixed messages! Was the house of God a place of worship, or a place of business?

Jesus’ actions showed the right answer!

Today, we have no temple, but we do need to be cautious about how we conduct ourselves. One of the most frequent complaints I hear about “organized religion” is that “they always want my money!”

If you tune into the “television evangelists,” it is truly only minutes into the programs before there is some kind of appeal for funds. Some appeals seem reasonable, and some border on the ridiculous — but all muddy up any message being delivered. It is difficult to refute the charge against “organized religion!”

The spreading of the gospel has some financial costs. Who should bear those costs?

Some have turned to raising the funds from those they reach out to — leading to the practice of “creative marketing” — the more people reached out to, the more potential income. In the short term this is great for the fund raisers, but in the long term this is devastating to those who fall victim to the charlatans — causing many to doubt God and distrust any who claim to follow Him.

Paul understood the problem. Causing those “taught” to bear the burdens of the “teacher” can become a distraction, or a blockade in the spreading of the Gospel. Even though Paul had the right to “earn a living” from teaching the Gospel, he had strong feelings about exercising that right.

1 Corinthians 9:18:  What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.

2 Corinthians 2:17:  Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

2 Corinthians 6:3:  We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.

In gathering funds for the spreading of the gospel, let us not turn the church into a market place — selling trinkets, books and “religious” items to a “captured” audience, making the church look like a “money hungry” machine. We have no biblical support for holding such raffles, car washes or bake sales — even asking those outside the church for support.

The burden of spreading the gospel should and does lie squarely on the shoulders of the church. The early church — the church we read of in the New Testament — the church Jesus died for — gathered its support from among itself. Here is what the apostle Paul told the churches in Galatia to do . . .

1 Corinthians 16:2:  On the first day of every week, each of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come, no collections will have to be made.

To gather funds any other way is to do so beyond Scriptural example, precedent, directive or command — and that is always a dangerous way to conduct ourselves.


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