About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
The Sacred Sanctuary
growing up as a child in the 1950's and 1960's in an Evangelical Christian
environment it was understood that the building in which we worshipped was
the house of God, the very place where God lived.
From a child's perspective, God must have felt lonely at times
because we only visited Him 8 out of the 168 hours in a week.
On Sunday morning and evening, and on Tuesday night, we'd visit God
in His house. We could talk
and laugh all we wanted outside of its doors but once inside, especially
inside what was called the sanctuary, we had to speak in a reverent
one occasion I watched my friends playing cards in the basement of God's
house. After being discovered
by our pastor's wife we were harshly scolded for desecrating the house of
cards in God's house was bad but selling things, even a Bible, was really
bad. Jesus made that clear.
"How dare you turn my Father's house into a market" (John
2:16). "My house is a
house of prayer but you have made it a den of robbers" (Matthew
specific house Jesus spoke of was Herod's temple.
It was so named because King Herod the Great, an Edomite who was
raised as a Jew, built the temple as a prideful expression of himself that
would bring glory to his legacy. It
was a massive structure, holding 210,000 people in its many courtyards.
It was adorned with gold and precious stones and was visible from
most parts of
temple was more than a place of worship.
The hustle and bustle of religious commerce dominated its daily
activities. Priests became
wealthy as they profited from the sale of lambs, sheep, goats, and doves
that would be sacrificed unto the Lord.
They were sellers of the sacred.
adult generation of my youth seemed to have missed the point that God no
longer lives in a temple constructed by men (Acts 17:24).
God lives in individual believers (1 Corinthians 6:10) and thus in
Body of Christ, the church (1 Corinthians 3:16 - 17).
If Jesus appeared in physical form today, He would not criticize us
for selling things in a building we call church.
He would, however, denounce us for selling ourselves, His sacred
sanctuary. Commercialization of church desecrates God's New Testament house and
destroys the very meaning of church.
commercialization is seen when Christian ministries promote and sell
themselves for financial gain. Such
ministries profit from their hedonistic financial prosperity gospel.
Their organizational structures resemble Dow Jones Corporations.
Their advertizing strategies vary little from our "I deserve
it all" corporate economy. Their
self-promoting, self-sufficient, and self-perpetuating ministries remind
me of the community of believers at
their arrogance, the believers at
building most call a church is not church.
It's just a tool we use in the service of the Lord, a tool that
should never shift our focus away from our calling to serve Jesus.
It is, therefore, okay to sell things in our buildings. What
isn't okay is the selling of ourselves by becoming self-promoting money
making ministries that desecrate God's house.
Jesus threw over the tables of religious commerce in Herod's temple, I
anticipate the day when He will overthrow our western world money making
ministries. I look forward to
seeing these sellers of the sacred sanctuary being humiliated as they are
scattered into bits and pieces across the ecclesiastical landscape.