In the Gospel according to Mark Jesus awoke the morning after his triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, walked into the Temple courts, and drove all the those buying and selling. His lesson for those who remained was;
“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.”
Here we see God’s Son reminding the leadership that the whole point of the covenant that was established with Abraham was not just to bless them, but all nations. For they were to be the people set apart that would direct all hearts, souls, and minds to the One True God. Instead they fell prey to a distorted notion that they were given the ability and authority to establish financial and ritualistic barriers between the world and God. Jesus offers the not so subtle corrective by over turning tables and chairs.
A question for us to consider today is whether we, the Body of Christ, set up barriers (financial or other) to keep people from God. Sometimes we do this intentionally, because we want people to live into the standard we see laid out in scripture. Other times we may not be aware that we are do it as we focus on the financial needs of our local ministry. However, both can and in some cases have become barriers to those who like to here more about this Christ and the God that we worship.
If we are so concerned on “fixing folks” first, before we allow them access to God then we have misread the scriptures. Do not misunderstand me. It is appropriate to establish standards for those who are called to lead, but that is a different matter. Rather what I am highlighting is our tendency to fixate on perfection now for the visitor, to the regular attenders, the member who is struggling to plug-in and find their place at the table of ministry.
The financial piece is a challenge in that it takes money to keep the lights on, the grounds clean and cared for, and the staff employed. However, if concern about money is permitted to become the focal point of every conversation among the leaders, then we are violating our calling, which is to worship the Lord with our being, and provide for our neighbor with the same energy that we provide for ourselves. It is hard to point to the hope we have in Christ and the liberator joy we receive when our shoulders are drooped and our faces sullen due to the weight of our serious financial matters.
If our Christ risked everything for all, then we too should be more willing to lay aside our lists of who is okay to love and who is okay to shun. We too must trust the Father’s perfect will in light of our momentary struggles, financial or otherwise.