13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13-17 NIV)
Today’s Scripture makes it crystal clear that there have always been folks trying to make a buck off of God. Whether it’s pious peddlers of religious trinkets, smooth talking wolves in sheep’s clothing making promises to those who will send in a “love gift,” or merchants and money-changers in the temple in Jerusalem–there has always been less-than-sanctified snake oil salesman in the flock.
Those throughout the ages who have stooped to such unthinkable practices have been a distraction that has kept many people from seeing God for who He really is. They watch an expose on 20/20 about some preacher who is preying on others instead of praying for others and they can’t see Jesus because of the hypocrisy and ungodliness of the one being exposed. They read an article about another preacher or priest who has abused kids and their disgust with God’s people keeps them from God. They hear about a “Christian” investment group that turns out to be nothing more than a micro Madoff ponzi scheme and they’re alienated even further from God.
It’s easy for me and others who follow Jesus to say, “It’s not fair that we get lumped in with the criminal element who use God for their own gain.” Whether it is “fair” or not doesn’t really matter. That’s the way it is. Reading about and hearing about these types of incidents has caused me to examine my own life. I may not sin in such a far-reaching or public way, but are there attitudes or actions that are a part of my life that keep others from seeing God, from desiring to know God? I believe there are and God is not pleased with anything in me that fails to reflect His grace, mercy, and love to a hurting world.
Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple, but if I will allow God to examine my life and expose the ungodliness of my heart then my need for Him should drive me to His throne of grace. I want others to see Jesus in me, but for that to happen I must die to myself so that Christ can live through me.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will give me the courage to allow You to examine my life, every aspect of my life, and expose the thoughts and actions that might cause others to stumble.