Jesus Turns the Tables

Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?” But you have made it a den of robbers. Mark 11:17b

Reference: Mark 11:12-25

In an age where the marketplace tries to play God at every turn, I’m more grateful every day for the above passage, and the context in which Jesus said it.

Yet even with this instructive and dramatic moment in Jesus’ life — one of the few times he ever got physically “aggressive” (by overturning the moneychangers’ tables) –we often forget that we have but one Master, and that Mammon is not it. The church is not immune, especially in America, to the temptations of substituting convenient, compartmentalized tithing for genuine sacrifice, or hollow ritual for meaningful worship.

I heard recently that some megachurches are installing credit-card scanners in their lobbies, to make tithing a quick, relatively painless process. These are lobbies which also, let’s remember, sometimes serve as profit-making coffeehouses, bookstores and mini-malls. Now, I know it’s easy to take potshots at the most extreme examples of how materialism and general shallowness has infiltrated the church. So that’s not my intention here. There are probably less obvious examples in every church.

I also know things have to be paid for, that ministry costs money. But the above examples are just a few of the many signs that the modern “money makes the world go around” attitude has supplanted the prayerful giving and use of money within the church. It was a temptation in Jesus’ day, as we see above, for people to get distracted from the object of their worship, even in their obedient and worshipful actions. So in overturning the tables and saying the words above, Jesus’ real intention is to overturn the hearts of his followers, to return the hearts of God’s people to their proper focus and expose the enemies in their midst (who are selfish userers, corrupt, …or maybe just distracted themselves from God’s original vision for sacrificial temple offerings).  

Put more than money, or the proper kind of “dove”, into God’s offering basket. Put in your heart. It’s the only investment that pays good dividends for the kingdom.