Today’s reading jumps nearly a thousand years in time from yesterday’s reading. The Temple Jesus enters replaced Solomon’s Temple after the Babylonians destroyed it in 586 BC. King Herod had been renovating and enlarging it for decades using Roman money. Local animal sellers charged pilgrims, who had traveled great distances, high prices for their sacrificial animals. In addition, the priests decided they wouldn’t accept the empire’s coinage. This forced the pilgrims to convert their money—at a commission—into temple currency in order to buy the sacrifices. Jesus throws these moneymakers out of the Temple’s courtyard because they have turned the worship of God into a profitable business.
Despite the fact that churches in our society have to have bylaws, audits, insurance, and tax forms, churches should not be run like a business. Churches should be run like, well, churches. Yes, they need to use good accounting principles and sound investment practices, as they need to use proper English grammar for the weekly newsletter. But that doesn’t mean the church should be managed like a retail store.
How is the church ever going to transform society into the way of Jesus if we run our churches the way our society runs corporations? Rather than influence society with the way of Jesus, too often we let society influence how we run Jesus’ Church.
When Jesus said, “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”
(v. 16), he was trying to tell us that God operates with a different bottom line. When churches make decisions about budgets, buildings, and bottom lines, Jesus invites them to see those decisions through the lens of his ministry.
In what ways do you think Jesus’ bottom line might be different from and similar to a corporate bottom line?
God, forgive me when I get my priorities mixed up. Give me courage to make decisions based on faith in you and in myself, and not on fear. Amen.