“We should praise God, sing and pray, and don’t color on the walls, and don’t sell anything,” says Rachel, 5.
Coloring on the walls always got me in trouble, too, Rachel.
“The temple is a holy place, not a place to charge money to people who come there,” says Melissa, 12. “We should not go into a holy place and charge people money because a church or temple is not a tax department.”
The Bible doesn’t say there’s anything inherently wrong with paying taxes. Jesus had no quibble with paying the temple tax. Peter caught a fish with a coin in its mouth to pay the temple tax for himself and Jesus (Matthew 17:24-27). Moses initiated this tax (Exodus 30:11-16).
“Jesus drove the money-changers out because he said, ‘My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’ God’s action teaches me that if you are deceitful or use the church for the wrong reason, you will not be rewarded,” says Kosee, 10.
During the various religious feasts in which thousands of Jews traveled to Jerusalem, authorities allowed money-changers and animal sellers inside the outer court of the temple. People bought animals to sacrifice. Also, they had to exchange Roman money for money that didn’t contain an image on it.
Exchanging money at a fair price should have been done outside the temple court, but these temple-sanctioned business people were inside a place of worship. When people profane sacred things by trying to profit financially from them, they become dull and callous to the ways of God’s spirit. The problem only compounds when they become ministry leaders.
“Jesus drove them out because he didn’t want the house of his father to become a house of merchandise,” says Morgan, 10. “In the Bible, it also said, ‘Zeal for your house has eaten me up.'”
Yes, Jesus got angry, but it wasn’t the kind of selfish anger we so often exhibit.
The money-changers were making it hard for common people to worship God. The outer court was full of bleating lambs and sellers hawking their wares and people exchanging money. No one was focused on God.
“When Jesus said he could build the temple in three days, he was trying to get the people to believe in him,” says Shelby, 8.
Jesus spoke of his body as the temple. The three days he mentioned referred to his resurrection on the third day. Jesus was the reality to which the temple pointed.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Today, God doesn’t dwell in buildings, but in the hearts of his people. When we come to worship God, we must put aside all distractions and agendas. Jesus wants his people to experience the joy and peace of undistracted devotion to him.
Think about this: In Jesus’ time, people traveled for days to visit the temple where God’s presence dwelt. If you’re a Christian, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Memorize this truth: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (I Corinthians 6:19).
Ask this question: If you really believed your body is the temple where God’s spirit dwells, how would the reality of God’s sacred presence affect your thoughts, behavior, work and recreation?
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Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
COPYRIGHT 2006 CAREY KINSOLVING