Jesus Is NOT For Sale

img_0243I watched a presentation last week where the presenter was talking about how times have changed in the church and how we must change with it. One of the things that stood about about what he said was that people aren’t going to respond to the Gospel if they see it as a ploy to get them to come to our church. That was NEVER part of the Great Commission. It seems that today too many ministries and churches are trying to “get people saved” in order that they can build their church and get more people coming to their brand of Jesus. We need to stop selling Jesus because people aren’t buying it.

Years ago I was associated with a minister who was attempting to start a church. It should have been a red flag to me when he told me that he had to be a leader and that he wasn’t meant to be just a member. Just a member? You mean like me? When the church didn’t take off, he moved to another state.

So what are we selling here? Some people want to start a church or ministry and when it isn’t big, they lose interest. They think that God is only interested in the big things or the mega church.  We think that large numbers means that we are successful.  We treat God’s work like a business and think that the bottom line is the measure of success.

I’m always suspicious of peoples’ motives. Why are they REALLY doing what they are doing? Why does it need to be big?

Since I left the church I have had some who have come along to connect with me but when they see that I am not going to come to their church, their interest in me fizzles out. So that would lead me to think their interest in me isn’t in ME but in what I can do to be a part of their church or their ministry. Jesus didn’t start this thing so that preachers could have a pulpit to preach from. In fact, if you study the Bible, you will see that Jesus didn’t have a church and many times when He went into the synagogue it was to preach to the religious people. When Jesus went out to the people, He had compassion on them and their needs. He healed the sick and He spoke words of peace to them. The only people He asked to join Him was the disciples.

In Matthew 25, Jesus speaks to the righteous people about how they ignored Him when He was hungry, thirsty, needed clothes, was sick or in prison. When they asked when was it that Jesus was this way He said that whatever you did for one of the least of these that you have done it for Him. So today we should be more than just an advertisement for a church organization. We need to meet people’s needs. If we see someone who is thirsty we need to give them something to drink. If they are hungry we should be willing to feed them. If they need clothes we should help them with clothing and so on. Never once did this say that we are supposed to witness to them. I know that’s a shock to a lot of people out there but witnessing alone won’t get it done. Today if you talk to someone about Jesus and they don’t see action behind the words then they aren’t going to accept it. just saying “God Bless You” doesn’t quinch their thirst and giving them nice, glossy witness card isn’t going to do them much good.

In my years with the church I was always opposed to knocking on doors. To me it was too much like being a door-to-door salesman. That was never a good way to get people to come to church. In fact, I had never seen that method of evangelism – or whatever you call it – work. If it did, it had to be a low percentage. Yes, I know if you reach just ONE person it was worth it but I never saw that selling Jesus that way was very efficient.

Have compassion on people. Meet their needs. You’re not going to do it by having a perfect attendance in a mega church with air conditioning, padded seats and singing songs from high tech visual presentations.

You may be thinking that I’m against church. In some parts I am.  This kind of talk makes us uncomfortable.  We get defensive and protective about our church.  We would rather stand in our Jesus arenas and clap for the Lord than to do something about it.  I lived a miserable life going to church and nothing changing. When you leave church feeling worst than when you came then there is something wrong with church. Sure, I think church is important for instruction and teaching but I think there has been too much emphasis on that than going beyond the four walls of a building. The church still must go out and – not add to their numbers as a church organization – but add numbers to disciples of Jesus Christ. That’s it in a nutshell. I think we’re just often too chicken to do that. It’s easier to stay in the church and TALK about doing it or even giving money so other people will do it.

There are people in need and hurting around us that need help. They need compassion. They don’t need a sermon. If it’s really good news then they need to see why it is good news. They need to see us being an example in actions and not just words.

It’s up to each one of us to do our part. It’s not always fun and it’s not always easy but helping others as if we are doing it unto the Lord is the attitude we should have.

I worked in churches for most of my life. I worked with youth, I taught Sunday School and Bible Studies and I even tried to preach but that left me awkward and miserable. Why is that? Talk wasn’t getting it done. The only thing that really ministers to people is to meet their needs and SHOW them. You show them by doing.

Let’s stop selling Jesus. People aren’t buying it. Jesus doesn’t need us to sell Him, He needs us to BE Him to others.

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The Greatest Show In Church

ringmaster-costume-largeIn the movie “The Greatest Showman”, P.T. Barnum was asked about his show:

James Gordon Bennett: Tell me, Mr. Barnum, does it bother you that everything you’re selling is fake?
P.T. Barnum: Do these smiles seem fake? It doesn’t matter where they come from. The joy is real.

On Friday, I tuned into a religious broadcast where an evangelist was being interviewed.  My first thought was to turn away but I was amazed by his charisma and candor.  He reminded me immediately of the P.T. Barnum character which was portrayed in the movie.

This “man of God” (a.k.a. Showman) was going on about how God was healing the deaf and the blind during his revival meetings.  He said this one person he had laid hands on was healed instantly as the person’s ear opened up and at another service in Utah another person was healed and he didn’t even have an ear drum.  This man was healing people left and right.  Miracles seemed to be everywhere he goes.

Okay, enough already.  I was in a Pentecostal church for over 40 years and I heard this line most of my life.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard that God would heal the sick, the lame would walk, deaf ears would be opened, blinded eyes would see and the dead would be raised.  Folks, I don’t mean to be harsh here but in the 40+ years I never witnessed any of these miracles that was allegedly happening.  So when this evangelist made claims about these miraculous healings, I want names.  Proof.  Who are these people you speak of?  I need some verification of this.

In all of my years I never witnessed a miracle. Not once.  Not ever.  It never happened.  Now this guy is spewing this same old, worn out Pentecostal propaganda and people are+ still buying it.  Yes, this is still the Greatest Show in Church.  I never saw it.  Now, I always HEARD it happened.  This evidence would not be allowed in most courts because it would be considered heresy.  I will be fair and say that I have known people who were healed but I wouldn’t say they were these miraculous healings this evangelist was selling.  I won’t say it wasn’t from God but most of these healings were also aided by doctors and medicine.

I honestly don’t want to be negative but I have heard enough.  It’s time to stop the theatrics and empty promises of these miracles.  I believe the reason we don’t witness legitimate miracles is that evangelists get in the way of it because it inflates their ego.  Then people start following the evangelist instead of recognizing the source of the miracle.  They say that God WANTS to do these miracles but He’s not going to do them to build up someone’s sideshow.  For years, I would often play an old audio cassette tape form a sermon I heard that told of miracles that happened in the speaker’s ministry.  I even asked for proof and never got it.  I wanted to believe.  I trusted these people yet it all seems to have been a show.  Smoke and mirrors.  Like the Great Oz where it was just a man behind the curtain.

I’m not being a rebel or doubter here.  I WANT to believe this stuff is happening and I do believe God can heal people but I’m just saying that as much as people want to sell this idea, I have never seen it happen.  I’m not saying it doesn’t happen or it wouldn’t happen.  I’m just saying there isn’t any evidence that there are miracles happening today.  It saddens me.  I want to see it. Enough of these sideshows with salesmen selling fakes. Either God can do miracles or He isn’t for some reason. Someone is lying to people here just to promote a church, a ministry or a preacher.

There was a time I believed these stories without any question but after over 40 years of seeing absolutely NO deaf ears opened, blinded eyes that could see and no one getting out of their wheelchair, I’m calling it like it is.

I often see a young man in the building where I work who has to have a mobile cart to get around.  He’s the nicest man you could meet.  I have thought many times how awesome it would be if God would raise Him up out that cart so he could walk on his own two legs.  I don’t lack faith that God could do it but I lack evidence that He is doing it.  I have absolutely no proof that it is happening today.

My friends, it is demoralizing to have gone my whole life being taught these things only to have never witnessed a single miraculous healing of any kind.  If you’re like me, you have to wonder why this is.  I don’t want stories anymore or a salesman claims, I want to see a God who is all powerful and not just some man claiming God is doing this things only to find he’s just a man behind the curtain making people think that an all powerful God is doing these things when He’s not.

God doesn’t need their help.  They need to stop selling Jesus.