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What If? The Blog

Modern Day Temple Merchants

Jennifer Giblin

TODAY’S READING - MARK 11

In verses 15-17, Jesus overturns the tables of those who are selling goods outside a temple.  As a note in my Bible (NIV Student Bible, Revised, Compact Edition by Zondervan) says, some of the commerce that occurred at the temple in Jesus’s time was legitimate (ex. selling animals for individuals to make sacrifices), but that some merchants were more motivated by making a profit from the goods than the fact that these goods were used for worship.  This leads me to think about examples of churches and individuals more interested in bringing glory to themselves than to God.

In my LIFE Group we read The Good and Beautiful Community by James Bryan Smith.  The chapter titled “The Serving Community” mentions a church should be focused on investing in people and not chasing numbers.  The chapter uses the example of two churches that sought to cater to college students.  The first church only wanted the students for the potential extra regular attendees they may become, and did not try to meet the students where they were or even talk to them.  The second church took a genuine interest in trying to get to know the students and meet their needs.  As one might expect, the students felt more connected to the second church.

One group of individuals who use religion to bring attention to themselves is campus preachers.  These individuals regularly visit college campuses and “set up shop” in the free speech area on these campuses and “preach” their unique version of Christianity.  The controversial nature of their message is what brings them fame.  There are multiple YouTube videos of these preachers’ “sermons” and one even made it onto an episode of Campus PD.  These preachers appear to turn off students who are not Christian.  In addition, the preachers are a thorn in the side of Christian organizations that are trying to bring more students to Christ. 

It is up to us to only buy from legitimate merchants, or to critique churches and individuals to determine their true motives and to focus on those which will bring us closer to God.  It is also our job to be living examples of the love of Christ to others so they will not be swayed or discouraged by those with personal agendas rather than godly agendas.  Our goal should not be numbers or fame, but rather leading others to the One who has been there for us through thick and thin.

Today’s Questions

·         What advice would you give to someone who is “church shopping”?

·         What would you say to someone who is clearly preaching false teachings?

·         How can we be true examples of Christ in a world where many false alternatives exist?

Ok, put down the Bible and go do it!

by Jennifer Giblin

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