Who of us as Christ followers doesn’t want people in our lives to know Him? We pray and fast, share our faith with them, sneak in a God story here and there, invite them to a special service or small group, etc. Those “gimmicks” are usually followed by a great deal of frustration: Why didn’t they get saved?? Probably their hearts are too hard.
Perhaps we should take a better look at our presentation…and I don’t necessarily mean our approach. What do we convey to people we care about through our lives, words, actions, and attitudes? I’m only your friend because I want you to be a Christian. I hang out with you but I still think you’re a sinner and my lifestyle is better than yours. I love you because the Bible tells me I have to. You’re my mission field…in other words…my project. If you don’t bow down and confess Christ the way I did, you’re going to hell.
Go ahead. Get defensive: “I don’t communicate that!” Yea, sure you don’t. Neither do I.
Who of us would willingly admit that we’re patronizing? That we talk down to people? That we might come across as self-righteous? That the way we’re presenting Christ might actually be the biggest turn-off to them following Him?
Take a look at this verse: When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the stalls of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from bringing in merchandise. He taught them, “The Scriptures declare ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves” (Mark 11:15-17).
This is a familiar story where we see Jesus go off on the religious. Yea!! Get em. But there may be a deeper meaning here that we’re missing. The Jewish people were making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover, many having traveled hundreds of miles. They probably didn’t bring the necessary animals for sacrifice, nor have the proper currency being from other territories. So, the currency exchange and the animal salespeople were necessary. The problem wasn’t WHAT they were doing, but WHERE they were doing it: in a part of the temple called the Court of the Gentiles. This was a place where non-Jews could come and worship, and be exposed to the Presence of God. This angered the religious who didn’t want their Roman captors much less any other vile people to receive what they had: a relationship with God. They were blocking them from experiencing God’s blessing.
Jesus sees their spiritual exclusiveness and pride and in a not too subtle way reminds them of their calling from Genesis 12 that “all peoples will be BLESSED through you.” When He chided them for being robbers, He meant they were robbing people of any access to God, to His blessing, mercy, forgiveness, and redemption.
So, are we doing this to anyone because of our “religious” attitudes? People of different religions? Opposing political beliefs? Questionable lifestyles? Do we hold them to a different standard? Are we punitive and exclusive with them? Do we use the Scriptures as a weapon of shame versus a message of mercy and love from God?