“Then they came to Jerusalem. Jesus entered the temple area and began to drive out those who were selling and buying in the temple courts. He turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. Then he began to teach them and said, “Is it not written: ʻMy house will be called a house of prayer for all nationsʼ? But you have turned it into a den of robbers!” (Mark 11:15-17)
Anyone who heard Jesus’ teaching who was fairly well read in the Scriptures, when they heard Jesus say, “But you have turned it into a den of robbers,” their mind would have instantly gone to Jeremiah 7. That is where my mind is drawing me to. That haunting, convicting, condemning cry of God through the lips of Jeremiah as he stands at the entrance of the Temple. Replacing the word “Temple” for “church” I picture Jeremiah standing at the doors of my church crying out to those worshipping inside with arms raised singing “Mighty to Save”;
“This is what the Lord of heavenly forces, the God of Israel, says: Improve your conduct and your actions, and I will dwell with you in this place. 4 Don’t trust in lies: “This is the Lord’s (church)! The Lord’s (church)! The Lord’s (church)!” 5 No, if you truly reform your ways and your actions; if you treat each other justly; 6 if you stop taking advantage of the immigrant, orphan, or widow; if you don’t shed the blood of the innocent in this place, or go after other gods to your own ruin, 7 only then will I dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave long ago to your ancestors for all time.
8 And yet you trust in lies that will only hurt you. 9 Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, sacrifice to Baal and go after other gods that you don’t know, 10 and then come and stand before me in this (church) that bears my name, and say, “We are safe,” only to keep on doing all these detestable things?11 Do you regard this (church), which bears my name, as a hiding place for criminals? I can see what’s going on here, declares the Lord. 12 Just go to my sanctuary in Shiloh, where I let my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel. 13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord, because you haven’t listened when I spoke to you again and again or responded when I called you, 14 I will do to this (church) that bears my name and on which you rely, the place that I gave to you and your ancestors, just as I did to Shiloh. 15 I will cast you out of my sight, just as I cast out the rest of your family, all the people of Ephraim.” (Jeremiah 7:3-15)
God was not upset with them because of the way they worshipped inside a church building, He was upset with them because of the way they lived their lives outside of the church building. He did not condemn us for raising our hands singing “Mighty To Save” in an hour church service, but for using our hands the rest of the hours in the week towards, “Mighty is Me”: hording “stuff” and wealth, selfishly taking care of our wants and needs, withholding support and resources from the homeless, orphans and widows, patting ourselves on the back with pride. He did not have a problem with their hour of worship, but their lack of a life of obedience. The measure of a Christian is not how high he can raise his hands and shout “Alleluia!” in a church gathering, but how straight and true his daily walk is with Christ. God is not dumb of blind. “I can see what’s going on here, declares the Lord” (v.11). He sees right through your acts of worship on Sunday and at church gatherings and He knows your heart and your true level of obedience to Him, “because you have not listened when I spoke to you again and again or responded when I called you.” (v.13). Nothing, not church attendance records, programs attended, service hours, saying a sinners prayer long ago, Nothing; can substitute for actual obedience to, and a right relationship with God.
God said it through Jeremiah in Jeremiah chapter 7, Jesus says it himself again in Matthew chapter 7. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ (Those worshipping in the Temple in Jeremiah 7) will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will (obeys) of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23)
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)
My family, I pray you will reflect and allow the Holy Spirit to speak into you regarding your level of obedience to God. Allow the Spirit to strip away your comfort and false assurance in the hour or two spent weekly in Sunday school and worship, or other weekday programs or classes, and see what is revealed about your true daily obedience and righteous relationship to God. In Jesus’ name. Please pray the same for me. God bless you my friends!
Please share your thoughts and reflections in the comment box below.
Gary Liederbach- Lead Follower
One Direction Community
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