What's the Problem?

A reading for Saturday, January 18, 2014: John 2:13-22

The problem in the temple was not that people were making money.  Jesus was not angry about that.  All over the city of Jerusalem people bought and sold their goods and services.  That's how they bought the food they ate, and the clothes they wore.  Making money was not the problem.

The problem was that doing such things in the Temple, at such a level, became such a distraction that nobody remembered what the Temple was really all about.  When folks thought about a trip to the Temple, they did not first consider the presence of God as the purpose, but instead how much they would have to pay for a sacrifice and how unfair they were being treated by the corruption of such a system.  The money changing became more temple than the Temple itself.  Jesus is angry.

Most of what we do in the church today is a new invention in the history of Christianity.  It has only been happening for the last 50-75 years.  A large campus, with multiple buildings for each part of our ministry, ample parking, and staff for every age group is new.  As late as one hundred years ago nobody would recognize such things.  Most churches were just a sanctuary, with maybe one other room someplace at the back as an office or meeting space for the pastor.  The 1950's brought a building boom and Christian education and a whole lot of resources for our churches.  It was the golden age of church growth.  It's all most of us can remember.

None of that is the problem.  There are many, many buildings and larger campuses all over the city.  The world is filled with experts who staff everything from basketball games on Saturday for our kids to cooking classes at the market.  Buildings and staff, that's not the problem.

The problem is when our large campus, with multiple buildings, and staff for every age group becomes more church than church.  When such things become such a distraction to our mission together that nobody remembers what the church was really all about in the first place.  When folks think about going to church, instead of being the church, well then that's a problem.

It's might not be a problem of corruption and unfairness like the money changers (though some would say it is), but I wonder if it might make Jesus angry nonetheless.      


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