“He’s so fine.” I heard a young woman sitting behind me say of a certain pastor who arguably looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s full of charm and charisma, slick hair, decked in shirts that tease some chest and flaunt buff biceps, tight Kim-Kardashian-for-guys jeans, I couldn’t deny I, too, found myself having to fight off similar thoughts and focus instead on what he was saying.
This incident happened over six years ago, and it wasn’t even a year before I packed up my spiritual bags and left that club-like environment that initially drew me because of its youthful “passion for Jesus,” but eventually left me hungry for a more authentic reflection of what it means to have a relationship with the Holy, Holy, Holy, God Almighty described in the book of Revelation, of whom often, when He’d appear to believers, would cause them to drop almost dead in fear and awe of Him.
The Church says we want a revival of those coming to Christ, and that is great, but what about those who have already confessed Him as Lord, but are wallowing and drowning in sin? Reverence has become taboo at best and downright offensive and altogether avoided by many in the Church. But sisters, if a Church tiptoes around or evades entirely the topics of holiness, sanctification, hating evil and loving good, then you are on a spiritual diet that is highly lacking in necessary and beneficial nutrients for growth. Please indulge me a little longer.
Is your character stagnant? Do you find yourself struggling with the same sins, feeling very weak, vulnerable, tempted, etc.? What are your Christian leaders like? Is everything “positive and uplifting?” Is Church service this fun time that’s full of inspirational jargon?
Encouragement isn’t evil–but in the wrong hands it’s deadly. In fact, what you’re hearing at many pulpits is actually flattery and deception. We are not even close to being worthy of God and His forgiveness and love. It is by His grace, which means “UNDESERVED FAVOR” that we have been saved. There’s nothing we can boast about regarding ourselves yet many pastors will parade on a stage like they’re all that and tickle your ears or flat out tempt you with their “spiritual” sensuality. You know, those pastors who are evidently very concerned with their outward appearance because they spend hours in the gym, always have their hair cut and styled on point, and “dressed to kill” as my grandma says.
Do you know what Paul said about himself and the other Apostles, the head honchos of the first church?
For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! 9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.”-1 cor 4:7-13
So many pastors are living like kings–and far from being “poorly clothed–spending a million dollars on a home when they could still very comfortably live off quite less and give more. These career pastors often “preach” messages that are universally accepted, easy to tolerate, and relatable to the majority. Yet biblically, we see the gospel and the standards for Christians as taught in the bible are focused heavily on living for God, pleasing Him, loving, serving, and honoring others. And how can you know if you’re pleasing to God or “acceptable” to Him if you aren’t reading His Word much, but heavily relying on your pastor’s word? How can you know if your pastor is teaching you how to please God, or if he’s teaching you how to please yourself?
See, these pastors and teachers enjoy making the bible seem secondary and optional at best. They love this because then, in your hunger for spirituality and positivity, instead of finding it in the Bible, you’ll buy their books. Think about it: they make a profit off of teaching you “spiritual truths.” If, in your search for answers, you relied heavily or solely on Scripture, then you wouldn’t need their books and then there goes their millions.
These guys are smart. There is a successful business model in pursuing a pastoral career. Make yourself look good, be charismatic, don’t preach or emphasize the bible too much, be as cool as possible, as positive as possible, flatter as naturally as possible, give out free coffee, and your church will grow. When you’ve got a big following, then you pump out and market your books to them and bam, your chances at becoming a millionaire are deliciously accessible.
Caveat: Recently, I pulled my own spiritual books off of Amazon, leaving just my fantasy novel, and posting the relationship advice ones for free on Wattpad. I’m just not comfortable selling spiritual advice. The apostles said it was okay to survive off of the gospel, but that’s for missionary men and women to have their needs met, that wasn’t an affirmation for inspirational “pastors” to become rich off of the gospel, teaching and making disciples, and then living lavishly. In fact, Paul said specifically in his day there were many peddling the gospel and preaching for “dishonest gain” (2 Corinthians 2:17, Titus 1:11). And, there’s still lots of them today who hypocritically say, “Well, I got rich off of my books, not church tithes, so it’s okay if I spend this money lavishly on myself.” Can you imagine what Paul would say to some of these men? And many of them come out as having some serious sin or accept really, greedily high salaries.
See, there’s no reverence. There is no fear of God, which the bible says is the beginning of wisdom. Many in the church are walking around just as Paul warned us not to: foolishly, when he told us to be wise, knowing what is acceptable to the Lord (Ephesians 5:10). Many don’t even know these warnings about walking worthily (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12), seeking if you’re behaving acceptably to God, even exist in the bible. I make my case: these men don’t want you to know they exist! Because then you might become “woke” to their fake-ness and greed, having the biblical discernment to see right through them and then totally pass on buying their books and other goodies.
God wants us to, “work out our salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12) because it’s “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” (Hebrews 10:31).
Jesus said the path to destruction is wide and there are MANY who travel it, but the road leading to life is, “narrow and difficult” and there are “few who find it,” (Matthew 7:13-14).
I pray in Jesus’ name that you–and myself–are among the latter.