Part 3 in a series of three
That’s always been my biggest question. Not “where do prosperity preachers come from?” — lust for money or power and/or a pathological need for attention is the answer to that — but why are SO MANY people taken in by these snake-oil salesmen and women?
Heck, they even look fake. Plastic. Sculptured hair, whitened teeth, too much makeup, airbrushed photos. Put together by fashion experts with Wal-Mart tastes and Cartier pocketbooks. Don’t people see it? I don’t even have to hear these preachers say a word to know they’re fake. I just know the look. One flash of those pearly whites and I’m running for the door. Why does anyone stay?
Is it the cult of celebrity? Christianity’s answer to Suze Orman and Dr. Phil? The feeling of “partnering with” (as the literature says) someone who is rich and famous? Being able to drop a name — “I got my picture taken with him!” or “She signed my book!” Do people find them sexy? Are their followers a bunch of wannabe’s?
Or do the reasons go deeper? Are people so desperate to feel good about themselves they’ll give their last dollar to anyone who lifts them out of their colorless lives for a moment? Are they so far down they’ll fall for anything that even looks like a hand up? Have people bought into commercialism so deeply they can’t imagine a loving God who wouldn’t want to spoil them rotten?
Or do the reasons go deeper still? Is it easy grace people are looking for? Do they want God’s favor without having to actually listen to Him? Do they want the benefits of Jesus’ cross without having to pick up and carry their own? Do they really believe saying “I deserve to have it all in this life and the next” brings honor to the Lord? Are they afraid of dying without ever having really lived?
This much I think I know: the success of the charlatans is at least in part a measure of the failure of those of us in legitimate churches to be the cultural missionaries God calls us to be. Because once people taste His love there’s no way they’d ever settle for anything else.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” What specific things can we do rescue people from bondage to false religion and show them God’s grace?