The Idolatry of the Age
You may have heard it said, 'preach the Gospel at all times & if necessary, use words'; truly, the best way to convey the Good News is through action: conversely of course, the best way to make a bad impression is also through action! How many televangelists do you know of, I'm generalizing here, that don't practice what they preach? Oh, I'm certain there are some that do practice what they preach, but when's the last time you heard one regaling the love of Jesus, while living in a multi-million dollar mansion & speeding past the homeless beggar in his Lexus or Bentley?
Wealth is one of the greatest status symbols of this age & Christendom is no exception! The Prosperity Gospel taught by many televangelists is mostly referring to financial wealth & the accumulation of 'things' that goes along with it! 'God wants you to prosper', they might say, standing on an expensive, elevated sound-stage, accompanied by the latest & greatest technology, in order to heighten the emotions of the lowly masses. All the while, the listening audience, whether live or from the relative comfort of their living rooms, are swept away on this boundless wave of emotion, believing that what this teacher says is gospel & that, unless they are financially prosperous, they are under a curse!
Young men & women, to whatever extent, depending largely on the area they feel 'called' to minister in, are entering the seminaries of this nation in droves! Some are there because they actually want to learn, to make a difference in mankind's search for God, but some, I fear, are there simply because the pastorate is one of the most lucrative businesses out there. This is not to say that a pastor should not be paid for ministering the Spoken Word; just that too many pastors have made a career of it, rather than actively ( ad ) ministering the Love of Christ!
It is one thing to preach; it is another to be a minister! A minister may preach, using words, but he will practice, to the best of his ability, that which he preaches; on the other hand, a preacher, though he may practice what he preaches, often does simply that, he preaches one way & lives another. This is not always the case, but often, a preacher will follow the money faster than he will his chosen calling. Now, don't get me wrong, I understand that a man, whether he is a minister or a janitor, must make a living; if he cannot provide for his family on what he makes in one area, he must make corrections in order to survive. On the other hand, trusting in our Father's wise provision, he may follow his true calling, ministering & being ministered to!
In a nation where many of our young & even some older people are cutting ties with the Institutional Church as fast as some others are entering the seminaries & Bible Colleges, we should ask ourselves, 'why?' Why are as many or more as are training to become pastors or ministers leaving the church scene behind? Maybe it's because they're tired of the 'scenery! Have you ever thought about the possibility that many have noted the hypocrisy, of pastors saying one thing & doing another? If more pastors & preachers would start ministering instead of just preaching, we might see a turn-around in this disconcerting trend.We might also consider, though, that this growing trend is of our God & Father, in order to purge & reveal His True Church!
Actions are, for the most part, authoritative! Everyone makes mistakes, but when mistakes evolve into habits, then judgment must turn into justice. If, for instance, a pastor or preacher fails to practice what he preaches, the first time may be judged a failure, as we are all prone to, but if he or she continually fails to act in accordance with the Message they preach, then justice must be served; judgment should then be passed & they should be relieved of their post: he or she must be branded as the charlatan they are!
'Talk is cheap', the saying goes! Words have meaning & they are not with impact. They can put to rest the hardest misgivings & soothe the savage beast, but they can also lie & turn the slightest misunderstanding into a roaring forest fire. When right words are followed by right actions, however, fear is replaced by love! For example, if we were to witness one of those televangelists that we hear about, actually doing what he said rather than just preaching about it & raking in the dough, while fighting off allegations of scandal; we might see those who are leaving the Institutional Church in droves turn right around & foment a Revolution!
Charles Haddon Shank