The passage on Jesus turning over the money changers tables, whipping them actually. He whipped them. How does that apply to buying and selling goods in church on a Sunday gathering. I will say I don’t think that passage applies. I think the context is radically different in this regard; the money changers in that place were legitimate. The problem that Jesus had was not that they had money changers there. You see the money changers were there because in the law when you wanted to offer sacrifices for specific things, so take like you wanted to dedicate your child, there were specific offerings that were allowed but sometimes some people could not make the amount and so there were some other allowances that were made there. So, the money changers were there to exchange money for maybe a dove or something like that, that you could use for the sacrifice. So, this is how we know Jesus’ parents were poor, they couldn’t meet it, they came with two doves. So actually, it was a legitimate thing that should have been operating in the temple. The problem with them was that now they were charging interests. They were making money. They were going beyond. Greed set in, that’s why it says you have made it a den of robbers. So, it wasn’t their presence that was the problem, it was what they were doing. Now why I say it’s not absolutely parallel was because the money changers were not even meant to be conducting business, like they weren’t meant to be making money. They were just meant to provide the service that enabled the things of the temple to go on. That’s why I don’t feel that it applies.
Now, where is there the legitimate need for people to buy and sell in church? I would say and I’m strong and passionate about this. I really do feel that as a church, part of how we love our neighbours and love each other is to encourage and help one another in all aspects of our lives and that includes people advise people on how to do business, on their career and all of that. And so sometimes what happens is a church member wants to start a business and they need some kind of leverage, they need a testing ground and there’s nothing wrong with saying my church community is the first group of people I can test with, that can even give me feedback and sometimes when the product is not very good, they won’t just throw me away. It can help me to scale the business somewhere else. I think there’s everything good and well and right in that.
Having said that, as with everything, there has to be boundaries and you have to be careful that things don’t go overboard. So maybe like the church you were in, maybe there were particular issues that kept repeating itself over and over and over again, or maybe the issues continued to grow that they felt that, whilst we want to encourage this thing, it’s inherently problematic that there’s no way we won’t have all these problems and that’s why they decided to put it aside. In our own case, what we try to continually do is put in some regulations here and there and we are still going to put in a few more so that it doesn’t go out of hand. So, we’ll always be examining, hopefully this thing doesn’t go out of hand. I know some churches that as they grew, eventually what they did was, there were stands and places designated for things like that. So, we always have to be careful that things don’t go out of hand.
Answered by Femi Osunnuyi, Lead Pastor of City Church, Lagos.