Then Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people selling animals for sacrifices. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
After that, he taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him. But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said. – Luke 19:45-48
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Kondo method of cleaning out closets.
Before you move a single thing, the first step in Kondo’s method is to visualize the life you wish to have with a clutter-free space. A free closet or uncluttered walls isn’t deep enough. Dig deeper. What does a life free of clutter mean to you? Maybe it means hosting more parties for your friends or adopting a pet or raising a baby. For me, I visualized a more creative home life: one in which I could bake more, draw more, paint on canvas more (a hobby I’ve all but abandoned since my move to New York). These things have been put aside for dealing with my everyday messes. And who wouldn’t want to spend time with friends over organizing china in the cabinet? Kondo asserts that by discarding things, we’re freeing up space for the things we love. – Martha Stewart’s Website
Keep only that which brings you joy. I’m sure it’s a good idea. I’m certain it would be very helpful for making a significantly better experience of walking into our closet. Diane and I really do need to do something to tame the closet clutter monster in our house.
There are situations, however, when even a radical Kondo clean-up approach isn’t enough. A toxic waste site must be attacked with every resource available to rid the area of dangerous chemicals.
This is what Jesus is doing. He recognizes that the practices of the money changers in the temple were eclipsing God’s true purpose for his house. They are bringing a toxin into the place of God’s mercy and presence. God’s house is to be a house of prayer for all peoples – not a place of commerce for taking advantage of innocent and unsuspecting people.
The antics of the money changers (thieves according to Jesus), not only cheated the people who were coming to worship, but obscured the true nature and glory of God. They made religion into a false transactional exchange: money for acceptable sacrifices to appease God and gain his favor.
God’s favor isn’t something we can simply buy off. He is predisposed to kindness, love, mercy and grace. His nature is revealed by those who fear, love, and trust him. It is seen in the faithful life and ministry of Jesus. It is displayed in Jesus’ suffering, death, resurrection, and Second Coming.
God’s purposes, and the success of his rule and reign are not dependent on tax revenue, fund raisers, or even free-will offerings. His purposes are advanced when people call on him, pray to him, believe in him, and give him the honor he alone deserves.
The true currency of God’s kingdom is grace, faith, mercy, truth, righteousness, and love. Jesus will go to the cross because of his commitment to those treasures. May we never obscure them by religion or false dealing.