This is a great time in life to have a huge sense of humor. I think if I ever had a desire to be a comedian then today would be the time I wanted to jump into it. The claims and promises that are being made every day by either politicians or someone on Social Media with a new product that will solve every problem from in-grown toenails to baldness are constant. I do wish it was just a thing of hucksters running for something or of someone trying to get rich by promoting some crazy product to cure all your ills. One thing that does stand out with most of the claims, the cures aren’t ones you can actually see. I am big time amused when I see the person advertising some weight loss product and shows a picture of him weighing 400 pounds and now he is thrilled to show off the fact he only weighs 350 now. But there are some that don’t make me laugh at all. Instead, there are times when I feel like crying after I hear a claim being made. These claims are usually coming from someone claiming to be preaching the gospel of Jesus and shouting loudly when there isn’t anything really worth saying. Most of the time the claims run along the line if you will just send the preacher or his show a good sized check that God is going to bless you with all kinds of good things. It used to be the case that if you gave they would send you some kind of handkerchief or such that had been prayed over or anointed with oil and it would bring healing to whatever ails you. All you had to do was send a gift of at least $50.00 or so and they would send you this free gift that would solve your problems.
Now it has become much more arrogant. Now it is, send the gift and you will get a raise, a better job or even a new car or new house. Instead of health the claims now seem to be more around wealth. And there are some very good reasons for it. When you check to see how these preachers are living it is certain they have become extremely wealthy from the gifts. I’m not at all certain that the people sending them have been benefitted at all, but it is certain the preacher living in mansions, drivings the best cars and even asking for money to purchase a new jet that God revealed to them they really needed. By the way, if you make a gift of just $100.00 they will send you a gift of a $3.00 book the preacher has written that will bless your life.
Can you in your wildest imagination, ever picture Jesus or any of his apostles doing this kind of thing? Jesus lived so close to poverty that when a man told him he would follow him wherever he went, Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds have nest, but the Son of man doesn’t have a place to lay his head.” When the apostle Paul went all over the countryside preaching Jesus, it was rare for him to receive any gift of support from a church. His claim was that he worked with his own hands to provide for his needs and to give them an example of how to live.
I do remember a rich man coming to Jesus on one occasion asking what he had to do to have eternal life. Jesus first told him to keep the commandments. The man asked which ones and Jesus gave him a list that included things like not committing murder, adultery or coveting. He told him to honor his father and mother and to love his neighbor as himself. Audaciously the man answered he had kept those from his youth up. Jesus told him he still lacked one thing. Listen closely to what the one thing was. The wording and challenges are important. “Go sell all you have and GIVE IT TO THE POOR then come and follow me.” I wonder what the man was expecting. He may well have thought Jesus would tell him that if he would begin supporting his ministry on a regular basis he would have a special place among them and they would even put his name on the letterhead as one of the best donors. I suspect it was a total shock when Jesus told him, to go and sell everything and give it to the poor, then come follow him. Jesus didn’t even offer to help him pick out which poor people to help. He didn’t point to a particular benevolent work he had a special interest in. He simply told him to give his money away and share it with poor people and then he could become one of his followers.
But, what did Jesus offer the man if he really followed through on it? Discipleship, the very same offer he made to every other person who would turn from their old way of life to follow him. Think about this, Jesus’ most common command to people was “Follow me.” Should we tell others to follow us? Maybe, if we can do so as the apostle Paul did. “Follow me as I also follow Christ.”
You see, inspite of all the claims and promises in this world, the vast majority of which will never come to pass, there is only one person we really need to follow in everything. He came into the world because God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that those who believe in him might have everlasting life. He came to show us what the Father is really like. He came as Savior and Lord. Peter said he left us an example that we should follow in his steps.
When I hear people talk about following some preacher or imitating some church, even if it is a church in the New Testament, I cringe. No man and no church ever got it all right. Jesus is the perfect pattern. Follow him. Make disciples of Jesus. The closer we become to him the more we will be all God calls any of us to be and his work and plan in the world will be fulfilled through us.