When Religion Becomes a Business

LeRoy Koopman

READ : John 2:13-22

It must have been quite a sight: the Son of God rampaging through the temple like a wild man, throwing over furniture, screaming at vendors, and actually brandishing a makeshift whip. It’s a wonder He wasn’t arrested for disorderly conduct.

As far as we know, it’s the only time in His ministry that Jesus lost His cool. What offense could have triggered this kind of outrage? Answer: Religion had become a business. Nothing angered our Lord quite as much as the commercialization of the faith.

The line between responsible stewardship and commercialism is sometimes a thin one. After all, the church needs money to operate. Mission and evangelistic outreach efforts need financial support. Part of my job as an RCA staff member is to write materials asking people to support the church’s outreach program. According to Paul (1 Tim. 5:17-18), it’s legitimate for a minister to accept a salary.

Perhaps the best test is to ask: If Jesus were here in person, what would He do upon entering our church sanctuaries and fellowship halls, our Christian bookstores, our denominational offices, our Christian television and radio studios, our parachurch headquarters? Would He smile approvingly or would He lunge in with a whip of cords to drive out those who were making religion a commercial venture?


Give us wisdom, Lord, to distinguish between religious commercialism and legitimate efforts to raise money. Amen.