Saturday, June 30, 2012

OK. I Give. It's Pet Peeve Time.

I have a secret to confess .. something I haven't mentioned here before (but I am old, and I may have before, but I'm too lazy to look through all my prior posts....).

Whenever I go to church where we have a special guest there .. author or musical performer, and they've set out books, tapes, CD's etc for sale in the lobby, I turn around and go home.

I won't stay when they sell stuff in the lobby. And we've had some famous guys I've missed out on, by doing that, too!

The picture up there portrays what's commonly referred to as Jesus' "cleansing the temple". It's reported in all the gospels, but the version I'm thinking of is the report found in John's gospel, chapter two. There, verse 12 says:

"To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"

Now, as I understand it, doves were sold there, to worshipers who'd come to the temple with no proper animal to offer as a sacrifice. So in that sense, they were selling something there, that was necessary to worship there, in the manner God had prescribed.

Apparently selling the stuff there was not what God had prescribed.

What makes our churches different today? We have lettering over the door to our sanctuary which says "My House Shall Be Called A House Of Prayer". How does selling books and CD's and DVD's fit into that? How would that be less offensive to Jesus than was the selling of doves, back in the days when a dove (or similar sacrifice) was indeed necessary for proper worship?

We hear the explanation that, by buying the materials, we are "having a part in their ministry". If that's needed, there can be offerings taken for such purpose. I believe Paul mentioned that sort of thing going on to support his ministry. And what with the internet, performers can sell their materials easily, without resorting to turning God's house "into a market".

It just seems to me that setting those things out for sale within the church building, regardless of whether it's before, during, or after a service of worship, would be just as egregious to God, today, as it would have been to Jesus, 2000 years ago.

He was pretty clear how He felt about it, then.

Apparently we don't share the feeling, today. I think we're missing something.

3 Comments:

At 5:13 PM, July 01, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like it either, just as long as they don't do it from the pulpit.

 
At 2:44 PM, July 03, 2012, Anonymous Nathan Petty said...

My pet peeve is musical "performance" masquerading as worship. I appreciate this may offend, but the Southern gospel groups I see are about as slick and rehearsed as a Las Vegas lounge act. (I understand the danger of casting a wide net, so please ignore that last comment if such has not been your experience.)

That rant aside, while I would not be in favor of turning the church into a retail outlet for every visiting speaker, I did have a positive experience which may fit your facts. Many years ago a Bible teacher named Major Ian Thomas was used by God to show me I was not really a Christian. I invited Thomas to speak at our church. At the age of 82 (or 83) he happily agreed and spent one week with us, speaking twice daily and blessing the Body.

Now Thomas and his assistant did bring a case of books to sell. Some Thomas had authored, some by others. But it was evident his desire was not to make an unseemly profit (too cheap); it was quite clear that Major Thomas wanted to point his listeners to books which had blessed him and might benefit the Body.

All to say that the evidence of Major Thomas's ministry overwhelmed my instinctive suspicion.

Brother Bob, I trust you have recovered from the convention. May you continue your edifying posts.

 
At 2:53 PM, July 03, 2012, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Thanks for the comment, Nathan. Yours falls into the same category, in my mind, as the believing woman who marries a non-believer and subsequently wins him to Jesus. It shows that God lovingly uses us to glorify Himself even when we're acting like occasionally-disobedient kids. I'm quite sure God's done that with me and for me, too.

It's also similar to my episode with Grecian Formula. I was fine with it until I read that page from the 1627 Bible they gave me (that one page) at Bethesda Baptist in London about 20 years ago. I read it and one verse became a principle with me, which I could no longer ignore. But it does not tell me about anyone but me, or about anyone else's behavior, either.

Yes, thanks, I'm recovered from New Orleans, and entirely too much Crawfish Etoufee. Enough so that I'm having surgery next week (knee replacement) just so I can recover from something else......

 

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