When it comes to job hunting, or getting through red tape to do something in business, it’s often not about what you know, it’s about who you know, according to the old cliché. Of course, it’s a cliché because it’s usually true. If a person needs to hire someone and one of the people applying is a friend, they often have an advantage. A bank officer giving a loan might look at a friend with a less than stellar record and give the loan while a stranger might be denied. People talk about this as the “good ole boys” network.
While the good ole boys network may not be completely fair, it’s comfortable. In the process though, it’s easy to overlook activities that are less then ethical because it was a friend that was involved. That type of cronyism has been around for a long time. In the days of Jesus, travelers to the Temple would bring their sacrifices in what might be a once in a lifetime opportunity to worship at the Temple. They might arrive to a courtyard full of confusion. A huckster might look at them, tsk tsk their sacrificial lamb, and say something like “I thought you were supposed to bring a perfect lamb for sacrifice.” He would then offer to exchange a perfect lamb for their “blemished” one for a small fee. Then he would turn around and offer that lamb to the next innocent traveler. This type of activity angered Jesus. “When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘“My house will be a house of prayer”; but you have made it “a den of robbers.”’” (Luke 19:45-46)
It’s more than likely those animal changers, or the money changers who would take a traveler’s money and turn it into the proper Temple money for an offering gained their concessions because they knew someone. They were in good with the religious elite. The priests got their cut of the Temple activity, the hucksters made their money, the innocents were cheated a little bit but felt holy offering the right kind of sacrifice; everyone was happy. Except Jesus. Another cliché is that when asking what Jesus would do, cleaning out the Temple with whips is still a possibility. Notice, though, that Jesus wasn’t mad at those innocent travelers. He was mad at the religious elite. He was mad at those with connections. It is an interesting study to realize that whips, Temple clearing, harsh words, and other strong reactions of Jesus were reserved for the religious elite and those with connections to them.
I wonder how Jesus would react to today’s Church. We tend to work with our connections and gain greater honor in the church. We overlook the sins of the leaders because they are, after all, powerful leaders and look down our noses at the down and out, at those suffering. Those who have made a form of Christianity the core of their success – be it in business or ministry are honored. Those who don’t appear to be as successful, no matter their relationship to God, are disdained. We look at those who are successful and believe that God must be blessing them because of their material success and want to be like them. We don’t recognize that many who are getting through life from day to day are truly blessed by God and that the mere fact that they are surviving against the difficulties they face each day is solely due to the grace that God has given them. We sometimes speculate on whose church Jesus would attend were He to come back for a brief, incognito visit. Today I wonder who He would use the whips on because they were taking advantage of those who are down and out. After all, it is in the realm of possibility.
Lord, it seems that I take advantage of the poor, the down and out, the disenfranchised often without notice. Help me to notice and honor those who are faithful to You no matter what their status.
(Sorry this was late today. I rushed to get to the hospital so that I could be there when the doctor got there for my wife. She’s fine and out of the hospital right now.)