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Sunday, July 30, 2006


Turning Tables: Temple or Kingdom

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 three of a four part series discussing the event, its history, and its implications.

First, I wrote about the history of the CBA. Second, I wrote about Jesus turning over the money tables in Jerusalem.

Today, I want to think about Jesus in the temple some more. I've heard preachers and others use the Jesus in the temple argument to rationalize their own righteous indignation. They fight so that God's house isn't compromised.

"Bookstores don't belong in church buildings!" they might say.
"Don't fill those Christian bookstores with trinkets."

But the logical analogy doesn't work entirely. Jesus cleared the temple in righteous anger, but we don't have a temple in the same way anymore. As I learned from N. T. Wright, traditional judaism focused on worshipping at the temple. He calls it a "temple religion." First century judaism was more complicated because they were scattered so widely. Synagogues were beginning to address this problem. And I get the sense that churches today more closely resemble the synagogue than they do the temple.

Of course, we have no picture of Jesus rushing through synagogues turning over tables. And we have no perfect analogy for the "Jesus Junk" that we see for sale "in his name." At best we can say that Jesus himself is now the temple. He said he would tear the temple down and raise it again in three days. And now the church is his body.

Here are a pair of syllogisms:
1) Jesus said he would rebuild God's temple in three days.
2) Jesus then rose from the dead after three days.
3) Jesus must have meant his body was God's temple.

1) The church is the body of Christ.
2) Jesus said his body was God's temple.
3) The church itself has become God's temple.
I don't mean the church building or even the people when they are worshipping together
in the church building. I mean every believer who calls on the name of Jesus, no matter where they are or what they are doing.

And you might be wondering, What does this have to do with the CBA? How is this a response to that cynical LA Times article?

Which reminds me of Colossians 3:15-17. Whatever you do--whether in word or deed--do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. You see, if Jesus Junk is somehow sacrilegious, then all junk is sacrilegious.

I know that was a big leap, so let me explain. If Jesus didn't want God's temple to be a marketplace, if the church is now God's temple, then we should not be living our lives as if
our purpose is the marketplace. My purpose as part of the body of Christ is to glorify God--in all that I do.

Of course, I don't think all junk is sacrilegious. Junk--Jesus or not--isn't a matter of sacrilege. It is a matter of taste. One person's junk is another person's treasure. For example, I have a weakness for science fiction and fantasy novels. I don't go to comic-con or anything, but I could imagine having fun there. Could God be glorified through Comic-Con? Could God be glorified through a comic book movie like X-Men?


Could God be glorified through an explicitly Christian comic book?


Are the audiences for these two products the same?

Probably not.

Maybe you can see where I'm going with this. I'll try to wrap it up tomorrow.

Update: Well, I tried to wrap it up in a timely manner. It took me a bit. But I did write Part Four here.

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