You're sitting in church. The piano player is starting the normal offertory music. The ushers are all lined up along the pews to pass the plates around to the congregation, and then a crazy man comes in and starts throwing stuff.
He picks up the offering plate and hurls it at the podium. He takes wallets and throws them in the baptismal at the front of the church.
Meanwhile all the members dressed in their suites and ties, try to tackle him before he destroys the sterility of their Sunday morning.
He walks up to the pulpit and screams, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade." (Jn. 1:16)
How do you deal with that?
Granted, the modern church has a tradition of taking an offering, and it's the modern way of tithing, which is entirely Biblical. So maybe my analogy doesn't hold true through it's entirety. But the problem is similar.
How many churches have stuff they're selling to make a profit so that members can get closer to God?
I know this is a touchy subject. Believe me. I've been in this conversation with many Pastors, Youth pastors, and if we include para-church ministries, even my own way of doing business needs to be examined. We provide a summer camp facility that students might come to know God in a more intimate way, and it costs.
It costs money to buy boats and jet skis.
It costs money to pay staff.
It costs money to set up systems of enrollment, risk management, postage for birthday cards.
It just costs.
And the churches say the same.
It costs money for a piano.
It costs money for carpet, paint, and building materials, not to mention all the ongoing operating costs associated with a house of worship.
So how do we read this section of scripture?
Are we supposed to do away with the bookstores in the church?
Are we supposed to not sell services whereby people dedicate their lives to mentorship?
How can we follow Jesus as He takes a bit of Spring Cleaning to the Temple?
Help me, as WE follow become more like Christ in our day to day lives.