We humans are always looking for the next rock-star, or celebrity actor, or anybody with an aura about them that makes us want to join the fan club.
Quite unfortunately, it differs little in contemporary Christian circles, and while too many moms of tweens are fooled by the day’s current Sweet Christian Singing Thing who radically changes upon turning 18, this post has to do with self-described, self-imposed, modern-day apostles, prophets, and teachers — many of whom put high pressure on their followers for funding because, they say, they have been called to do the mighty work of God, and listeners are obligated to obey God with their debit cards and checkbooks.
How do you resist an offer like that? “If you don’t fund me, people will die in their sins, and you will be to blame.”
Well, let’s look at three questions we can ask ourselves before we pay to play:
1) Is this person true?
“Watch out for false prophets,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:15. Peter, a true apostle, describes false teachers as those who “secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord . . . In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.”
False teachers are out to make money. Some of them, as part of their program, perform high level magic tricks, or close their eyes and intone highly generalized prophetic statements that fit as accurately as today’s horoscope. If the person claiming your attention and funds enjoys a lifestyle much greater than the average person sending him checks, it’s worth stopping to think.
And if he claims to heal or perform miracles of any sort, it’s extra worth stopping to make sure that these claims are true. The words on his website, or those run by corporations he owns, aren’t the best resource.
2) Whose name does this person promote?
True teachers, like Christ, point their message, always, back to God, and away from them. There is a sense of humility about a true follower of God that gives real meaning to Christ’s injunction to not seek the honor of men (Matthew 6:2)
“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts,” Jesus told the Jewish religious leaders who persecuted Him in Matthew 5:41.
“How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that come from the only God?”
One of the most useful litmus tests I’ve found regarding the genuineness of a speaker has to do with the size and scope of their name on publications associated with them. For example, when the name on the book is more prominent than the title, I generally give it a pass. The same goes for a business: when the name of the leader outshines its purpose, I’m skeptical.
It’s also worth not getting excited about family names. While Deuteronomy 7:9 assures that God keeps his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands, this is no promise of an earthly kingship of ministerial speakers who step, from father to son to grandson, into place, as if they were heirs to the throne.
When it comes to that, 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles record a number of sons who do, or don’t, follow in the footsteps of their fathers. Christianity is not an inherited birthright.
3) Is this person humble?
All Christians are called to follow the example of our Eldest Brother , who came “down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:39)
Or as Paul phrased it in Philippians 2:6-7,
“Being in very nature God, (he) did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.”
Jesus did not raise His hands and bask in the accolades of his audience, nor did He define Himself by associating, prominently, with high-ranking men of the world. He didn’t own a private jet, and He intimately interacted with as many, and probably considerably more, regular, ordinary people.
Jesus built no walls — literal or figurative — around Himself.
These three questions are a starting point, and while they may or may not work for you, the concept behind them — that we do not intrinsically believe what we are told but, like the Bereans of Acts 17, examine the Scriptures to see what we are told is true — is sound.
For more on this subject, please follow the link to my Commonsense Christianity article at BeliefNet, Modern Day Apostles.
This article is linked to Woman to Woman, Imparting Grace, I Choose Joy, Wholehearted Home, Intention, Soul Survival, Mom to Mom, Grace, Hearts from Home, Tell It Tuesday, Shine, A Little R and R, Growing in Grace, Jennifer Dawn, Raising Homemakers, Wise Woman, Moms the Word, Titus 2sday, Christian Mom Blogger, Look at the Book, Simple Moments, Missional Woman, Rebecca, Arabah, Friendship Friday, Misadventure,
What helpful suggestions!
I never thought to assess the book with a title and author’s name comparison. That totally makes sense. God should be the biggest name.
We need to be very discerning as to what or who we give our time and money too.
Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.
Wishing you a lovely evening.
Years ago, I started noticing how large the names of the authors were becoming, in relation to the title of their books, and it made sense in that the name was the selling point. Very much a marketing thing.
For the many years while I was still asleep, I saw this in the “Christian” sector and was vaguely bothered by it, but once my eyes started opening to the deception that surrounds us I realized,”Oh, yes — it’s just a marketing thing. The religious arena runs itself like the business one, and while on the lower levels, people may do this innocently, there’s not so much innocence the higher one goes on the (corporate) ladder.”