By Funmi Yusuf
I felt compelled to write this piece after some reflection and meditation on the scripture, John 2:13-16. In these verses, the bible talked about how Jesus kicked out all the people that were trading in the temple declaring that it is a 'house of prayer', not a 'house of business'. I am guessing the buyers and sellers must have been members of the temple else they wouldn't have been allowed such access. I can only imagine how upset and disappointed Jesus must have been when he came in to pray but was met by all the distractions and vanity. I imagine Jesus came wholeheartedly, seeking to set aside the worries and pleasures of the world and just worship his father. Instead, he was being chased down by sellers and haggled by money changers. How sad.
Although in current times, the picture wouldn't be as dramatic as it was during Jesus's time (I hope), but the underlying fact of making the church a 'house of business' rather than one of prayer or worship is so prevalent. Churches have become competitors to one another and even worse, members compare their successes or progress against another's output. The very thing that we have been warned not to do because it is not wise.
The house of God ought to represent a place of holiness, prayer and reverence. Think about it, in the days of Moses, whenever Moses was to appear before God, the Israelites were often so scared and cautious that they preferred Moses going alone. They considered themselves unworthy and feared being struck by God's wrath. How much of that reverence do we have now for the house of God? Do we consider his glory or presence when we turn the place of worship to a networking spot for the purpose of advancing our own self ambitions?
The house of God in our time, although not filled with money changers, have become a place to pass time, meet new friends and business partners, follow fashion trends, set up business stands and grow our businesses. It’s not a bad thing to meet people in church but if your sole purpose for coming to church is to meet people then you have replaced a house of worship and turned it into a social gathering.
If we want God’s presence back in our churches, if we want people to walk in and get convicted of their wrong doing, if we want to see more of God like it was in the days of old, then we need to accord God and his house the respect He deserves. Simply put, take away the focus from the activities and focus on the presence of God and guard his presence in the house of worship
Let’s take the focus away from filling the pews to ensuring the lives of the people who sit in these pews are transformed by God’s presence. Take your eyes off the people, off the church leadership, off the contacts you can make in church and focus on God. When you walk into a church just dwell on his presence and watch him take control of your life. If you abide in him he will abide in you and your life will be fruitful in every way.
If you ask me, ‘What's your business in a church?”, I’d say, “Just to Worship God. Period.”
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5