Jesus came to the temple in Jerusalem and saw the merchants and money changers carrying on their business. He made the point saying, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (Verse 17) And with that he drove them all out, overturning the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling pigeons.
Now let’s fast-forward a couple of thousand years to today. In many churches there is an inordinate amount of focus on selling stuff in the church. There are stands for books, CD’s of sermons, music CD’s and so on. In addition there are bumper stickers, costume jewellery, bracelets, necklaces, scripture verses, bookmarks with scriptures on them, coffee mugs, pictures and all manner of things that are sold under the banner of “Christian.”
Now the Bible says that it is fine for those who work in the Lord’s service to earn their living from that work. The scripture says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:17-18)
But I cannot see how the marketing of these things above, especially the bracelets, CD’s, coffee mugs, jewellery and so on has anything to do with the ministry work of God. Selling these things is no different from the movie or music industry who sell all this same kind of paraphernalia for profit pure and simple. Films and music may make a lot of money, but the marketing of these toys and trinkets is where the real bucks are, and the marketers know it. The licensing of names and brands is where the real money is at.
So has the church sold out to capitalism? Is the dollar the almighty rather than the Almighty God in their minds? Has the love of money and the greed for gain turned them aside from the path of the truth?
My point is this. Jesus drove out the money changers from the temple because they had turned it into a marketplace rather than a place of worship. Today there are some in the church who are using Christianity and the name of Jesus to market goods for the purpose of making profit. This is not about making their living, unless making a living means having the fanciest houses, the finest clothes, expensive cars and a lifestyle of the “rich and famous.”
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) Who are these preachers who have focussed their energies and preaching on wealth creation serving? They have replaced the truth of the gospel with the lie of this world. Money will not buy you security, it will not give you happiness and it will not commend you to God so as to gain entry to his Kingdom.
When I see tele-evangelists who spend more time and energy promoting their latest books or some other trinket, supposedly in the name of Jesus, rather than preaching the word of God, I wonder who they are serving. The marketing is slick and polished and designed to get you to put your hand in your pocket to give them money. The only thing missing is the classic infomercial line, “But wait! There’s more! With this trinket you get six steak knives!”
What does the world see in this? Do they see anything better in the church when they see this kind of marketing than what they see in the world? Do they see Jesus in this kind of thing? No. It is no kind of witness but is a sham and it turns people away from the truth.
But the churches and people doing this, and I must add it is not all churches but just a very high profile few, are blind. They do not see the error of their way and believe they have reached the penultimate of Christianity. Their proof? They believe the Lord has blessed them with wealth. But what does the Bible say of them? They are like the church of Laodicea described in Revelation 3:14-19.
14 “And to the angel of the church in La-odice’a write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!
16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.
They think they are rich, but they are spiritually impoverished. They think they need nothing, not knowing they have nothing. They are pitiable, poor, blind and naked for they are clothed with righteousness. They are neither cold nor hot because they don’t want to rock the boat. When you rock the boat in this world, you upset the marketing and you don’t make money, which is why they are lukewarm, following the dollar. The message to them is to go and find the truth and to repent of their self-serving ways.
There is a lesson here for all of us. For if the churches who do this kind of thing are seeking your money, then what is the quality of the teaching. Which master do they serve, God or mammon? And more importantly, what truth will you get from those who promote such a ministry?
(Picture sourced from oChristian.com http://clipart.ochristian.com)