Today in my online Bible study group, we are studying Luke 19, with a focus on verses 45-46:
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
When I started to think about my initial observations on the text, I was stumped. Growing up, I knew the story of Jesus clearing the temple but always envisioned Jesus being angry, yelling and tossing tables left and right. Nowhere in any version of the story do I now read the word “anger”. He cleared the temple. Told them what His Father’s house was meant to be, and then got rid of what wasn’t supposed to be there.
But what is the point of the story? I googled, I read commentaries, but they mostly reiterated the story. I texted Ryan and tried to get his insights.
And then I re-read it.
“My house shall be a place of prayer”. This reminded me of why we go to church. It’s not a place where we go to dress the nicest, or make new business contacts, or talk in the parking lot about people on the other side of the parking lot – we are there to speak with God and be close to Him. To hear Him speak to us and grow closer to Him.
Remember why Christ instituted the church – as believing brothers and sisters in Christ, we come together to pray, hear God speak to us, and respond to His message. We are not there to see who showed up and who didn’t. We are not there because maybe if we make a good showing, the other members will shop at our store or buy our goods later in the week. We are not there so the elders will stay off our backs about our attendance. We are not there to hear a good concert or listen to the minister tell us that God will give us great riches on earth if we have a positive attitude and ask Him for it. If these are the reasons we’re at church, it’s time to take a deep look within.
I’ve been one of these people. Our church is traditional. We sing from the Genevan Psalter with the only accompaniment being an organ. We have a Church Order that we adhere to. Our services can seem predictable. And to some, boring and dry.
But when you listen? When you participate in congregational prayer? Church is amazing. Listening to the 10 Commandments every Sunday and knowing how we all fall short but with the grace of God, we are redeemed! Hearing the Word of God preached with such conviction, truth, and might. What a blessing! In our church we are blessed to receive two messages every Sunday. To some this is a chore. But what a true blessing! Some weeks I wish we had more services mid-week to help me get through the week.