Preachers, Pimps, Pastors and Prostitutes

rev-pimpOne of the most noted sayings from the Bible is: “My people perish (or ‘are destroyed’) for the lack of knowledge.” That saying comes from Hosea 4:6. But have you ever wondered why God said His people perished because of the lack of knowledge? Well, the answer is right there in the rest of the verse! Let’s read the verse completely. The English Standard Version (ESV) says: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” The New American Standard Bible (NASB) says: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Notice the punctuation of the ESV could suggest the people were destroyed for the lack of knowledge because the priest rejected knowledge. The way the NASB is punctuated suggests that because the priest had rejected knowledge, God; the LORD reject him from being His priest. The interpretation is a bit ambiguous because there were no punctuation marks; no commas or periods in the original Hebrew text. But as we look at the whole of the biblical text, I believe both interpretations are equally valid. People are destroyed for the lack of knowledge whenever the priests, the ones appointed to teach the people knowledge, reject the knowledge they are supposed to be teaching the people! Also, whenever the priests reject the knowledge of God, they reject God and are thereby rejected by God and disqualified from the office of priest. So both interpretations are equally valid and applicable. But for the purpose of this post, I want to adopt and use the idea that God’s people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge because the priests, the ones who are supposed to be teaching them the knowledge of God, rejected the knowledge of God! In other words, I am saying that in most cases, the ignorance and misbehavior in the pew can be traced to ignorance and misbehavior in the pulpit!

We are living in a time wherein the conduct, attitudes, behaviors, conduct and even preaching of many who called themselves preachers, pastors, bishops, evangelists, apostles, right-reverends, or whatever, are absolutely appalling! Everybody and their Momma claims to be anointed or have the anointing today! Yet in many cases, these so-called prophets are really just after the profits! Some of the preachers have more women (in some cases men) than the local pimps! Whenever a pastor is more concerned about the condition of the offerings than the condition of the souls of the people, that pastor is pimping the people of God for profit! Oh! What a shame it is! The Bible refers to the church as the Bride of Christ. But whenever, any church is subjected to the authority and rule of those who seek to manipulate and use her for their own profit and prosperity; that church ceases to be a bride and becomes a prostitute! In that situation, that church is not a local manifestation of the Bride of Christ, but rather a prostitute for a pimp who calls him or herself the pastor!

Now, this is not just solely on the preacher-pimp, the prostitute-church must bear some of the responsibility also! In Jeremiah 5:30-31, the Lord spoke a word through the Prophet Jeremiah concerning Israel that is equally applicable to some of the churches today. He said: “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in this land–the prophets give false prophecies, and the priests rule with an iron hand. Worse yet, my people like it that way!” (NLT) With many churches today, it is just like an old blues song I heard about a lady who responded to her lover whenever he told the lie that he loved her. She said: “I know you are lying, but I love to hear you say it anyway!” There are many in the church today who tolerate foolishness in the pulpit because they don’t want to be challenged or confronted about their own short-comings!

Now before I conclude, I don’t want to give the impression that what I have previously described is the prevailing state of affairs in all churches. This month (October) is Pastor Appreciation Month. If you have a pastor, a leader, a preacher who is indeed a true man or woman of God, thank God for them and let them know in a tangible way that you really appreciate them! There are some pastors, preachers, prophets, bishops, apostles, or whatever, who are indeed true men and women of God! There are some churches who are indeed true to Christ and are seeking to be salt and light. There are some pastors and preachers who are leading churches and ministries that are indeed preaching the true Gospel, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and making disciples as Christ commanded. No! Don’t reject the whole barrel because of some bad apples! Don’t get swept away by the flood just because there’s some mess in the ark! I just simply saying that you need to use discernment!

While the Bible describes the church as the Bride of Christ, it also describes the people of God as sheep. It uses that analogy because sheep need a shepherd. Sheep need the care, protection and leadership of a shepherd to survive. So it is with the church. Be a sheep, but don’t be a dumb sheep! The Apostle John gave warning: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jn. 4:1 ESV) No! Don’t just accept the bishop’s word that it’s God’s word just because the bishop said it was! You need to be like the Berean Jews in Acts 17:10, where the Bible says: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”(ESV) Take notes during the sermons and then go home and study that word for yourself!

My friend, your standing with God and your eternal destiny is too important to leave solely in the hands of any preacher, pastor, bishop or priest! The Apostle John said that many false prophets have gone out into the world! Many prophets who are actually just “profits!” Many preachers who are just pimps! Many pastors who just want to shear the sheep instead of being a shepherd for the sheep! Many pastors who would seek to turn the Bride of Christ into their own personal prostitute for profit! And so, as I conclude, I leave you with a warning from Jesus found in Matthew 24:24-25: “For false christs (anointed ones; those who say they are anointed) and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.” Beware of preachers, pimps, pastors and prostitutes!

More __________________ Than Christian?

christian-more-likeOne of the major problems with many who would claim to be Christian in America is that in most cases, they are more of something else than they are Christian! For instance, there has been such an uproar lately about the silent protest being led by Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. In order to call attention to the disproportionate number of shootings and killing of Afro-American people by the police, Kaepernick kneels instead of standing during the playing of the national anthem before football games. But there are some people, many who claim to be Christian, who are absolutely infuriated by the Kaepernick’s protest! They are more upset by his protest than they are by what he’s protesting about! They claim he is being unpatriotic and un-American! Seriously? This country was founded on protest! Duh! History 101! But my real point is that whether you agree with his methods or not is really beside the point! But to be more upset over his protest than by what he is protesting against proves the point of his protest! For many people in America, standing for the national anthem and respecting the American flag is more important than the lives of some American citizens!

Now, I used Kaepernick’s protest as an example, not to belabor the issue of Black Lives Matter versus Blue Lives or any other lives mattering. The fact that there is even a debate or a contention about lives mattering in the first place is an indication that to some people, “some” lives don’t matter! No! I used that example to illustrate the point that for many so-called Christian people in America, their Christianity takes a back-seat to their prejudices, biases, politics, economics, gender, and race. They are more Black than they are Christian! They are more White than they are Christian! They are more liberal than they are Christian! They are more conservative than they are Christian! They are more Republican than they are Christian! They are more Democrat than they are Christian! They are more American than they are Christian! They are more _______________ than they are Christian! 

However, if you are more _____________ than you are Christian, then perhaps your Christianity is suspect! Biblical Christianity supersedes all human categories and distinctions and demands that all who would espouse it be as one! Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his passion: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn. 17:20-21 ESV).  The “these only” Jesus referred to were his present disciples and the “those who will believe” were all those who would ever come to believe because of the testimony of his disciples. Jesus prayed for the unity of believers. In fact, the prayer suggested that unity of his believers was to be the proof to the world and the cause for the world to believe that God sent him! So, according to this passage, the fact that so many “Christians” are more something else than they are Christian is evidence that they may not be Christians at all! At least, not Christians as Jesus calls Christians to be! For Jesus calls Christians to be unified, not by their race, creed, color, political affiliation, nationality, or politics, but rather by their faith in him!

The Apostle Paul wrote; “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:26-28 KJV). According to this text, all of the issues that divide us have been obliterated in Christ! So the fact that they are yet dividing factors suggest that we have not completely submitted ourselves to Christ! We are more ____________ than Christian! God, help us to repent! The racial issue in America will never be resolved, the political in-fighting will never stop, unbelievers will never really believe until those of us who claim to be Christian are indeed more Christian than _____________!

Survival, Success, or Significance?

significanceWhat is your main goal in life? For a lot of people in various parts of the world, the main goal is just to survive! There are many people who, through no fault of their own, are in such incapacitating circumstances that each day is battle for survival! They are struggling and straining just to eke out another day of existence; they are struggling to survive! While there are many who find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own, there are others who are in similar straits because of bad choices and foolish decisions. But no matter how they got there, the fact remains that there is a sizable population in the world who are struggling to survive! Their main goal in life is just to survive!

And then there are those, who through providence, vision and hard work, have risen above the goal of mere existence and have adopted the ideal of success as their main goal in life. The funny thing about success is the fact that it is really an ambiguous idea! A person can be successful in one area of life and be complete failure in another area. For example: Is a person really successful if they have reached the top of the corporate ladder, but yet their family and other personal relationships are torn and shattered? There are many people who are successful financially, but their personal lives and relationships can in no way be characterized as successful. Perhaps these are the ones Jesus had in mind when he said: “For how would a person be better off if he gains the whole world at the cost of his life?” (Matt. 16:26 McDonald Idiomatic Translation) We normally view that passage from the perspective of the term “life” as a reference to eternal life but the principle applies to everyday life also. What good is it if a person gains the whole world (achieves success) and loose their personal relationships, personal happiness and yes, even their own self in the process?

I would like to suggest that while success that is balanced and healthy may indeed be a worthy goal, it is nevertheless so far below the intended goal of life that God has in mind for us! I would like to suggest that the goal of life ought to be more than just mere survival! It ought to be more than just material success! I would like to suggest that goal of life ought to be significance! Significance is making a positive and worthwhile difference in the lives of other people. Significance is working to make the world a better place! Significance is leaving the world better than it was when you came! Significance is leaving a legacy that lives on even after you are dead!

Now, the great thing about significance is that you really don’t have to be successful to be significant! In fact, you can be successful and yet not really be significant! You may not have much money, but you can still be significant! You might be barely making it, trying to survive from day to day, but you can still be significant! Real significance does not come from what you receive, real significance comes from what you give. Even if you don’t have much in material resources, you can still give of your time and your talent. As the great songstress; Mahalia Jackson sang year ago:

“If I can help somebody, as I pass along,

If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song,

If I can show somebody, how they’re travelling wrong,

Then my living shall not be in vain.”

If you help someone as you pass along and make your life about the service you can give instead of just the benefits you receive, your life will not be in vain. You will live a life of significance!