Monday, July 14, 2008

Living in Two Worlds

Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God (2 Cor. 2:17).

“Peddling the word of God for profit” reminds me of the moneychangers in the Temple.

Jesus entered the temple area 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' " (Matt. 21:12-13).

Now making doves and other animals available for worshippers to sacrifice was not wrong. But creating hubbub in the Temple itself and gouging the pilgrims with inflated prices, was completely unacceptable. How could such a thing happen? The vendors did not see themselves as servants of God, aiding the people in keeping the holy festival; they were completely caught up in the opportunity to make money.

The moneychangers and vendors were in the Temple, but not “in God.” Paul, in the passage from 2 Corinthians, avoided the profit motive in his ministry, because he was “in Christ” and “before God.” (There’s that phrase “before God” again—like the many times in Revelation.)

A person can be in Christ and before God inwardly while involved in any situation outwardly. My father preaches a sermon about Nehemiah, based on the following narrative:

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before; so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart."

I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?"

The king said to me, "What is it you want?"

Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it" (Neh. 2:1-5).

Nehemiah was standing before King Artaxerxes, but at the same time he was standing before the KING. And this stance made all the difference in the outcome of this conversation.

We do our best living in this world, when our hearts are united with Christ and we stay positioned before God.

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