A key frustration of Martin Luther was how the church glorified and used money. He saw that the church in his day distorted the good news of Christ by offering salvation in exchange for money. And when the church became focused on money it ceased being the church. It stopped serving God.
I wonder if Luther saw himself acting like Jesus in the temple:
Seeing the exchange of money as a sign of faithfulness in the temple, Jesus, in good and right anger, caused quite the disturbance. He turned over furniture, made a whip of chords, and drove out all the traders and moneychangers, saying “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:12-16)
As surprising as Jesus’ action is when he arrives at the temple, we cannot linger on this part of the story alone. What Jesus did in the temple next is really what helps us understand the problem with money. After driving out the evil intentions and actions in the temple, He went on to heal the sick. The point here? Money had clouded the purpose of the people of God: to love God and love others.
Money, like many other human constructs, can keep us from seeing and loving one another. It allows us to put others in categories of “haves” and “have nots”, or “us against them”. It gives us a false excuse for not doing our part to bring about the Eternal Kingdom.
In today’s era, money is more elevated than ever. So, we must ask ourselves how money clouds us from doing the work of the Eternal Kingdom today. And we must not just ask ourselves this, but we must also act on the direction in which the Spirit and conscience lead us. Jesus wasted no time, and as soon as the temple was cleared out, he welcomed in the needy, downtrodden, and rejected, and lived out His mission.
If we clear our hearts, minds, and hands from the cloudiness of money, we might focus on the work before us in new ways, loving God and loving others more fully and wholly.