Trekking through Matthew. Arriving at Matthew 21 today, and pondering the scriptures today. Check this out…
"Jesus entered the
temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He
overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those
selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'"(Matthew 21:12-13)
You know the scene. Jesus walks in and turns over all the tables, money flying everywhere, birds free from their cages, and Jesus lets the money changers have it.
Sometimes people like to equate this section of scripture to the facts that ministry people aren't allowed to sell anything. Books, videos, and various resources can be found in almost every church across America, so are those churches violating God's intention for the church?
I think it's important to know the context by which Jesus scourged the temple before we come to any firm conclusions.
The temple was the place where God dwelt, literally.
It was the place where everyone was to come for the atonement of sin.
During passover, Jerusalem would literally grow exponentially as Jews from all over the country side came to offer their religious sacraments.
Well, the residents of Jerusalem knew it.
They knew the influx of people meant opportunity for entrepreneurs.
They knew the religious places where central to the obvious migration.
So they took the things the people needed and started creating margin.
The margins for a sheep, for instance, was almost 400% above the regular price.
The doves were 250% above what they could have been.
The grain was higher, the meat was higher, and the incense was almost out of reach for the common worshiper.
So Jesus was dealing with a culture that had turned the temple into a retail store with erogenous profit margin. They couldn't have sold that stuff outside the temple for anything near what they were making there.
Back to our day…
The resources available at the church are most likely there to help the people of the church grow in their relationship with the Lord.
Some help people understand God's view on cultural issues.
Others help people navigate the stormy waters of marriage.
And still more have information to disciple people in their financial lives.
So is it ok to sell Christian resources in church?
I BELIEVE if we've got stuff that truly will help speak to a generation and help the kingdom grow it's ok. But church leadership must be careful. We must not turn God's house into a place where people are being gouged for the products. Our motivation must continue to adhere to the purity of the gospel, but; people need to understand product costs money to produce.
Ink isn't free.
Production isn't free.
Paper isn't free.
The time it takes to write isn't free. (believe me, writing books takes an enormous amount of time.)
So to be able to pay for the product surely isn't a sin. Is it?
What do you guys think?
Obviously being an author weights my opinion here, but I want to live inside the principles the Bible lines out for us to live by. If the church needs to be free from selling stuff…then so be it. We need to make sure we're allowing God's heart to drive our lives, rather than our heart trying to fit God into what we want to do.