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Friday, July 28, 2006


Turning Tables: Books, Junk, and Sacrifices

The LA Times recently ripped the International Christian Retailers Show (ICRS) in Denver in their article "Christian Retailers Put Their Print on Products." This is part two of a series discussing the event, its history, and its implications.

Yesterday, I wrote about the history of the CBA--in an attempt to help readers understand how the show became what it is today. I'll admit, my initial response to the trade show was not so positive either.

Still, it is easy to throw stones at the entire affair and dismiss it is a gathering of Pharisees. It is easy to assume the authority of Jesus and start turning over money tables and driving out sacrificial animals.

Certainly, Jesus set this precedent. Consider these passages:
* Matt. 21:12-16
* Mark 11:15-18
* Luke 19:45-48
* John 2:13-25 (this one especially)

Ok, now if you didn't click on those links to read the Bible, stop. Go read those links. If you are like me, you think you know what the passages already say. You've proof-texted the entire issue in your head already and remember the details you want to remember, the details that support your argument. Stop. Go back to the Word.

Here's what I remembered. Jesus was upset by the money changers. I was always taught that the people were being cheated in the temple. The whole endeavor had turned into a racket for the merchants. Pilgrims wanted to meet God and atone for their sins, but first they were gouged by the laws of supply and demand.

That interpretation would certainly set us all free to go make lots of money selling Christian products--so long as we aren't cheating anyone.

But the actual accounts are more complicated. Especially John, where Jesus says, "How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" Ouch. This suggests that commerce is a sacrilege to God's temple. I've heard people argue that Jesus Junk turns God's house into a market. Certainly, the Jesus brand is hot right now. Slap the name of Christ on crap, and it sells better.

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus says, "My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers." Double ouch. This reminds us to seek God through prayer, not stuff. Too often I try to buy my way into holiness. I surround myself with Christian CDs, Christian books, Christian jewelry, Christian clothes, Christian whatever. If I put enough labels on myself maybe one of them will stick.

God's house isn't a business. It is a place to worship.

More tomorrow.

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