Perhaps you have heard someone define themselves this way. I think what they are trying to say is they believe in God but want nothing to do with formal religion. There have been so many issues with various churches people do not want to be associated with an organization that seems to be very hypocritical. Even the readings today seem to support their viewpoint.
For example, the reading from Exodus lists the commandments of God. People tend to look at these as rules that they must follow. Commandments and rules are not always the same thing. Let us look at the context of this reading. Moses has led the people out of Egypt. Egypt’s laws were an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. Regard for the value of life was based on slavery. You could and would be treated very cruelly. There was intermarriage and incest. God has chosen a people. God has Moses lead them out of the slavery of sin in Egypt, but now they must learn to live in a just and merciful manner. God gives them the Ten Commandments.
God went so far as to write these commandments on their hearts. These are commandments of love, to love God, love your neighbor, your family. They are commandments of morals and virtues, how to live your life that keeps you in relation with God. People tend to remember, and the Hebrew people remembered the material things they hand in Egypt, but they did not remember the slavery of sin and their immoral acts. God would have them wander in the desert to prepare them for the promised land. If you are spiritual with no guidance from God what keeps you from sin and other immoral acts? What forms your conscience to choose wisely what God gives you? The commandments are bonds of love between you and God forming that relationship we need to live our lives fully. Not laws that continue to condemn.
Looking at the gospel it is good to look at some of the clues.
First, this is Passover. It is thought that Jerusalem would grow from a city of 50,000 to one million people for the Passover. People who were traveling would not be able to bring their sacrificial lamb or doves over a long distance. And they must be blemish free. Blemish free was determined by the Rabbis. So, the religious leaders made provision for unblemished animals to be available for purchase. But you had to use temple currency to purchase the lamb. You can imagine some of the corruption that would develop with a system like this.
Second, the Temple itself. It is listed as one of seven wonders of the ancient world. It was made in the traditional way, the actual temple in the middle with an inner court. But what made it so huge was King Herod, who was not a Jew, initiated an overwhelming project that lasted forty-six years as stated in the gospel, to build a massive outer court. The prophecy was that a grand temple would be built for the new messiah. Herod’s intent was to present himself as the coming messiah. Herod built the massive outer court around the temple. It was in this outer court that the money changers and other marketers have invaded. The outer court is part of the temple, God’s house. Not a den of thieves.
Third, remember this gospel was written nearly seventy years after the Resurrection of Christ. We know the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Jesus foresaw the destruction of the temple. We know Jesus was speaking of the temple within Him. But it is interesting to note, Christianity continues, but Judaism needed to rewrite their religion. There is no longer a temple. There are no longer any sacrifices. In Christianity, Jesus comes to make His dwelling in our hearts. We become temples of the Holy Spirit. Death no longer can harm us when we believe in Christ.
Fourth, people came to believe in Jesus because of the signs He did. Notice that Jesus did not trust Himself to them. Jesus knows what evils are in our hearts. Just believing in signs means that we could change our minds with any magic trick. Believing in signs is not true faith. True faith is believing in God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen