Robbing the Purpose
Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 56:9-13| Joshua 19:1 – 20:9| Luke 19:28-48| Proverbs 13:12-14
Today’s Scripture Focus: Luke 19:28-48
Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling.  “It is written,” he said to them, ” ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”(Luke 19:45-46 NIV)
The temple was designed by God to be a place of worship and prayer for all of God’s people. It was to be a house of prayer for all nations. But somehow it lost its focus; it was robbed of its purpose. Jesus cleared the temple and declared that the house of prayer had become a den of robbers. So, how does a “house of prayer” become a “den of robbers?”
In part it was because of pride and prejudice. The Israelite people saw to it that their needs were being met, but lost sight of God’s concern for the nations. They began to think that God only cared about “people like us.” So the court of the gentiles seemed unnecessary–and it became a place to sell merchandise to make their lives easier. Personal convenience became more important than God’s heart for all people.
In part it was because of personal agendas. Some were motivated by money and saw the opportunity to turn the temple into a place to make a profit. Others were motivated by convenience. Instead of carrying the animals for sacrifice from their home, they could just buy what they needed right in the temple. Whatever the agenda, it was not Gods.
Like the people of Israel, people in churches today, sometimes place personal convenience ahead of God’s purpose. They begin to think that the church is only for “people like us.” When churches cease to care about reaching out to new people–when they forget about God’s heart for all nations–the church loses focus and purpose.
When personal agendas are more important than God’s agenda, when our personal convenience is more important than the needs of the lost, we fall prey to the same temptation. When my personal preferences are holding the church hostage to God’s design to reach out effectively, then the church has been robbed of its purpose for existence. The house of prayer becomes a den of robbers.