Art Sunday

On May 20th Antioch is having an “Art Sunday” where the message, music and service are built around biblical themes of art. Before the service, we will be displaying pictures, paintings and other works of art from those within the Antioch community. Many of these works will be available for purchase with the proceeds going to our Uganda Project. (I also think it’ll be fun to have people place works of art in their homes from Antioch artists!)

Yesterday, however, I received a sincere question from someone concerned that the art sales might be too close to what was going on when Jesus cleared the temple because it had turned into a “marketplace.”

It is a valid question, and one that I’ve dealt with for many years as my mom ran a bookstore out of a church (that incurred the same critique).

Anyway, below is my response to that question:

The passage referenced (Jesus clearing the temple) deals with two specific issues that were overwhelmingly objectionable (to the point that Jesus would use a whip on men…)

First, people were using the temple and sacrificial system to turn a profit and extort pilgrims. It became a money making racket like any of todays scams. It lacked ethics and boundaries and money was King and God was not. What made it worse was that pilgrims who traveled a long way HAD to purchase something when they got to Jerusalem if they were to have anything to sacrifice before God — meaning they were under compulsion and were at the mercy of the system (they had no choice).

Second, the tables were set up in the “Court of Gentiles” which was designed as the place where non-Jews could come to worship God. Consequently, all non-Jews were pushed out and deprived in lieu of the money making enterprises. Thus Jesus’ comment that the temple was supposed to be a house of prayer “for all nations.”

The Art Sunday has neither of these. The difference is so great in my mind that it is not even a matter of degree, but of being the opposite.

Much of the artwork being displayed will not be for sale, and the money made from any of the artwork that is for sale all goes to the Uganda missions trip. In other words, there is no extortion, there is no compulsion and nobody is being pushed out or kept away because of it. On the contrary, it is a great outreach, a great opportunity for people to use or contribute their art and talent and will fund a humanitarian cause that I’m sure is near to God’s heart.



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