If Jesus never sinned, how do you explain turning over the money-changers tables in the temple?

If Jesus never sinned, how do you explain turning over the money-changers tables in the temple?

We read about Jesus clearing from the Temple the money changers and sellers of sacrificial animals in all four of the Gospels.

John records the first instance shortly after he is baptized at the outset of his ministry.

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
John 2:13-16.

The second incident was when Jesus entered Jerusalem prior to his arrest, trial and crucifixion. It was recorded by Mark and Luke as well as Matthew.

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
Matthew 21:12,13

In both instances, Jesus did not display anger because he couldn’t get his way, but because the priests and merchants had turned the most sacred place of worship into a religious bazaar. The motivation for Jesus’s anger was pure, not out of pride or selfish ambition that is the typical root of anger.

Jesus may have felt that the transactions were usurious—that the merchants were getting rich exchanging common money for temple coinage required for the temple tax—but the text doesn’t say that. What we read was Jesus’ objection to the commercialization of God’s house.

Anger is one of many emotions that God built into the heart and mind of every human. Throughout the Bible we read about God’s anger. Clearly, then, anger is not sin. However, what we’re angry about most certainly can be sin, and when we don’t check the emotion of anger we often behave in a sinful manner.

If anger is something you deal with, talk to God about getting it under control. One way to do that is getting into a right-relationship with God and then petitioning him for help. If you are not sure where you stand with God, we encourage you to check out our blog post: How does one become a Christian?

Should Christians Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Should Christians Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

While it is hard to argue against love, Christians should ask themselves, “what makes this day special?”

 

Modern society has so commercialized this day that people are often caught up in the “obligation” to buy something or act in some way as to show their love for someone else. People get hurt when they feel that they haven’t been sufficiently recognized or “loved” or when the object of their affections doesn’t reciprocate. Many who don’t have anyone with whom to share a love, end up feeling “left out” when they see those around them celebrating something they lack.

Are these reasons to not celebrate Valentine’s Day? Probably not, but as in everything a Christian does, he or she should ask, “Is what I’m doing honoring God?”

History is fuzzy with respect to how Valentine’s Day came to be a special day honoring love between a man and woman. Some suggest that a Christian Saint was tacked onto a Roman celebration of a god of sex. Others recall a legend that dates to the third century when Claudius, the emperor of the Roman Empire, banned the practice of marriage. He theorized that men sent to war would be less effective fighters if they were concerned for spouses they left behind. The edict of Claudius flew in the face of Christian teaching that saw marriage as a sacred vow between a man and woman that mirrored the covenant relationship between Jesus and his bride, the church. A Christian priest named Valentine secretly held marriage ceremonies for young couples. He was caught, tortured and killed for disobeying the emperor, but he is said to have sent a love note just before his death—the first “Valentine.”

Through the centuries, that priest was declared a saint by the church and his legend grew and became a reminder of the importance of the sacred institution of marriage. So, there is some justification for a Christian to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but God reminds us that loving him is more important than one’s love for any human. It is nice to send a card or bring flowers and box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day, but is vastly more important to show one’s love of God every day of the year.

God set the standard when he gave the 10 commandments to the Israelites after they left slavery in Egypt.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.“You shall have no other gods before me.”

Exodus 20:2,3

This love as summarized by Moses in Deuteronomy:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:4,5

Jesus quoted these words, affirming the importance of love both of God and each other:

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:37-40

If you would like to better understand how you can appreciate true and abiding love a love that so great that God sent his son Jesus to die in your place for your sins so that you can know a love that will last through eternity, we invite you to read our blog post: How does one become a Christian?

 

 

Why doesn’t God fix racism?

Why doesn’t God fix racism?

We’re first going to have to define racism. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary lists as its first definition:

“a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”

Some say that racism is more than a belief but is a practice of implementing laws and policies or establishing societal norms that discriminate against individuals or groups because of their race, ethnicity or skin color. In America, people are often categorized as those who benefit from or those who are victims of racism. This divisiveness exacerbates relationships, tears at the fabric of our society and often prevents seeing others as individuals made in the image of God.

The answer to your question is found in the Bible. Men and women have repeatedly turned their backs on a loving God who wants, more than anything, to be in relationship with him. Because we are in a constant state of rebellion against God, we no longer pay attention to our moral compasses. We no longer listen to God’s spirit within us that wants to show us how to live in right relationship with God and with our fellow man. As a result, all of us imagine that we know what’s best for ourselves…and we want others to affirm that belief.

So, we seek out like-minded individuals. In doing so, we feel obligated to find fault in others who do not think or act as we do. We seek to minimize the accomplishments of others and think of them as somewhat of lesser value. That, in turn, allows us to imagine that we are somehow superior to others—a foundation of racism. Those attitudes lead to wars, conquest, and the infliction of pain and suffering on others.

Racism, then, is the extension of man’s individual rejection of God and his creation. The fix that God has provided is the transformation of an individual’s heart and mind. It begins with confession of one’s own sins, and a cry to God for forgiveness. Recognizing that we have turned our backs on the God who created the universe and knows everything about us is very sobering. It comes with a realization that the penalty for our sinfulness is greater than we’re willing to bear. That’s why God allowed his son, Jesus, to come to earth and to die on a Roman cross, substituting his death for the death we deserved.

When we accept what he has done for us and let him refocus our lives to be more like him, we will begin to see others as he sees them—not looking on their outward appearance, but on their hearts. That’s God’s fix for racism. That’s why true followers of Christ cannot be racists, and should actively seek to drive racism from society.

Throughout history, Christ-followers have worked to end divisions between peoples. In America, it was predominantly Christians who worked tirelessly to end the scourge of slavery. For example, the nation’s sixth president, John Quincy Adams was a deeply religious Christian who did something no president, before or since, has done. After leaving the White House he fiercely fought against slavery for last 17 years of his life as a Congressman.

Would you like to know how to embrace a faith that leads to an end to racism as the hearts of men and women are aligned with those of Jesus?  We encourage you to read our blogpost: How does one become a Christian? 

Why is there so much personal conflict these days?

Why is there so much personal conflict these days?

While the pandemic seems to have exacerbated interpersonal conflicts, they have been around forever. Once Adam and Eve turned their backs on God and sin entered the world, conflicts were inevitable, and it wasn’t long before Cain killed his brother.
Not all disagreements spiral out of control and end in a loss of life, but way too many lead to figurative, if not literal murder. This life is tough and the hardest things are relationships, especially when they aren’t healthy.
For the most part, we can control ourselves and our actions but we can’t (or shouldn’t) control others. People offend us and we will get hurt. There’s no hiding from that. Sometimes, it’s intentional and other times it’s not; sometimes they aren’t aware of how and when they have hurt us. In our polarized ideological climate, especially, people often say things that may be hurtful, if unintentional.
So, What can we do about these conflicts? Jesus lays out a clear strategy for dealing with conflicts among Christians.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Matt. 18:15-17

That strategy doesn’t necessarily work with people who are not part of the body of Christ. Since conflict arises where two people have differing ideas on how something should be, arguing the merits of one’s position is often not a winning strategy. But loving the other party even when you believe him or her to be wrong may break down barriers and at the very least, will help soften your own heart and allow you to extend, compassion, love and forgiveness where appropriate.
Conflict is not always bad. But de-escalating conflict is always wise. Sometimes that may require you to set aside your personal feelings and extend grace to the person with whom you are in conflict.
Remember, that each of us were (and often still are) in conflict with God, but his son, Jesus set aside his privilege and died for all of our sins. God’s grace and mercy extends to all, and should be passed through you to others. He offered forgiveness before before we even asked for it. It is forgiveness we will never deserve. Matthew records these words of Jesus:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.Jesus even told us He would forgive us our sins, as we forgive others.”

Matthew 6:14-15

Forgiving is hard, but necessary. It may not end tension between individuals, but it will give you peace to help you deal with the conflict without turning to bitterness. God’s Holy Spirit inside of believers enables us to forgive. That spirit will also bring you inner peace. Ask God for the power, wisdom and make the choice to forgive today; the feelings will come later.
Would you like to know how to embrace this true faith that brings forgiveness and peace? We encourage you to read our blogpost: How does one become a Christian?