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December 13, 2007 / beidson

Confronting the Televangelist Within

We’re all familiar with the sweaty, smooth talking television preachers who dress intelevangelist2.jpg really expensive clothing and ask for donations.  Their entire presentations are set up to win over their listening audiences, and they are often very succesful at doing just that.  Serious people, believers and unbelievers alike, do not take these television preachers seriously, because they realize that these televangelists are taking advantage of ignorant people who don’t know they’re being duped.

It’s easy for us to reference these televangelists in a derogatory manner, and to furrow our brows with righteous scorn as we channel surf from our sofas.  But what we ought to do when we see these preachers working the crowds is put down the remote and examine our own hearts, because in reality, there’s a little televangelist in us all.

Not a day goes by that I don’t notice a tendency within myself to manipulate others.  I am a master manipulator at heart, and this is something I must constantly battle against.  You don’t have to be a televangelist to find countless ways to put yourself on the receiving end of giving; you just have to be human.

Jude comments on those who were previously judged by the Lord: “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage” (v. 16).  This last part is particularly relevant to our common problem: “showing favoritism to gain advantage.”

Maybe you tell the truth in such a way that people will pity you or take your side, or perhaps you have figured out ways to do things where you will ultimately receive something in return.  Perhaps you do others favors because your real intentions are to receive from them.  We are quick to judge the flamboyant preacher, but we are equally as quick to overlook ways in which we subtly take advantage of others by working ourselves into a position to receive.

We are right to despise the smooth talk of greedy televangelists, but we must first be willing to confess our own tendency to constantly put ourselves in a position to receive.  What we ought to do when we see the finely dressed preacher is pray to God that we (as well as the preacher) would be saved from such wicked selfishness.  We ought to pray that the grace of God in Jesus Christ would work in our hearts to deliver us from such predatory “humility” and instead give us the mind of Christ, who dared not even claim his royal rights as Sovereign Creator, but made himself a man to save mankind.  He knows the heart of every man, televangelist or not; he knows that we take and do not give.  He alone can save us from the wrath of God, and for this salvation, you are indeed welcome to put yourself in the position to receive.

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