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Some houses of prayer have become dens of thieves

Culture of Greed

A few days before his arrest and crucifixion, Jesus went into the Temple and saw the blasphemy perpetrated by the attendees. Worshipers were buying and selling inside the Temple of God. He overturned the table of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!’”

His citation was from the book of Jeremiah and Isaiah. God was angry with the Israelites who were abusing their privileges as religious leaders and violently taking what did not belong to them. “Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 7:11).

“These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:7). The purpose of God is that anyone who steps into His temple shall receive joy as he prays and offer sacrifices.

As we have just a few days to commemorate the arrest and crucifixion of Christ, I feel like reminding us that this scenario that Christ encountered in His earthly ministry is eerily similar to today. It is also important to note that God is watching all the atrocities going on in the so-called “Houses of Prayer.”

The oppression and intimidation in the Church are all noticed by God. In the time of Christ's earthly ministry, the Temple leaders perverted God's ways and purposes. They cheated worshipers and sold animals meant for sacrifices at exorbitant prices. Jesus felt bitter and violently accosted the evildoers and quoted the Scripture to prove the legality and authority of his actions.

I cannot imagine what Christ would do today if he physically stepped into some of our churches.  Aprons, anointing oils, protective wrist bands, holy water and miracle jackets are merchandised inside the houses of prayer without recourse to Christ's chastisement.

Spiritual trade by barter is now rampant in churches. Many worshipers are no longer interested in what God says but what their pastors says. Many Christians no longer read the Bible but read books written by their pastors — books that oftentimes negate the teachings of Christ.

When the house of prayer becomes the den of robbers, the sheep are hurt. Many so-called custodians of the Gospel these days live in affluence while those whom they are robbing live in abject poverty. In Nigeria, many universities are built by the poor, but they cannot afford to send their kids to those schools. Many such worshipers are hypnotized and are groomed to defend their hypnotizers.

Worse yet, houses of prayer can also become the den of kidnappers where even children are kidnapped routinely. In one of the churches in Ondo state, Nigeria, Mrs. Modupe Kolawole took her son to a church prayer service. She heard wonderful testimonies from church members about alleged miracles happening there. The expectation of Mrs. Kolawale turned sour when she went to pick up her 1-year-old son after service, but could not find him. The woman who went to church to pray ended up losing her only son to kidnappers. This should not be!   

As we soon celebrate Easter, let us be reminded that the house of God is a house of prayer and not a den of thieves. Christians are representatives of Christ on earth and should resist every form of corruption and commercial activity in churches, just like Christ did. We might not have the authority to overturn the tables of the money changers, but we can resolve to speak out or refuse to patronize the false teachers who inhabit our pulpits.

Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. His calling is to take the gospel to where no one has neither preached nor heard about Jesus. He is the author of the book Mystery Of The Cross Revealed.  

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