Preachers You Can Trust
Frontline ran a program on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and their blockbuster TV talk show “PTL.” Sadly, we don’t have to go back to the 80s to get broadsided by preachers and priests who use Jesus as a pretext for illicit sex, greed, and breaking the law. Before we conclude that the Bakker story is normative, and all preachers should be locked up, we need to check out the lives of other leaders in the Jesus movement, especially those like Paul in the first century who took the Gospel all over the Roman Empire.
What kind of a man was the Apostle Paul? In the midst of a Roman culture where itinerant cynic philosophers traveled from city to city using rhetoric to take advantage of people, what was Paul’s ministry like? Here’s what he wrote back to his new converts only a few months after he brought the Gospel to the Thessalonians.
“For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you and being welcomed by you did not prove to be without real results. In fact, having just been persecuted and ridiculed in Philippi, as you all well know, we still had the courage in the power of God to speak to you God’s Good News in the face of intense opposition. For our tender appeal to you did not spring from error, or vile sexual impurity, or treacherous cunning. No. Just as we were tested by God and approved by him to be entrusted with the Good News, so we are speaking not as men-pleasers but as God-pleasers. He’s the One who tests our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:1-4
Paul and Silas didn’t make millions selling healing prayer rags to line their pockets and build mansions. Instead, they had scars on their backs from the whips and marks on their ankles from the Roman stocks from the persecution they faced in Philippi. They were the real thing and I challenge you to look around your town or city, not at the smash religious hits flashing in the lights on your TV, but quiet, patient pastors faithfully connecting with folks around you. You might find that Jesus’ Spirit is still generating men and women you can trust, men and women whose walk matches their talk.
And the next time, after the exposure of another preacher scandal, and someone tells you that all preachers are con artists and hypocrites, just ask, “Why is it such a scandal when Jesus is linked up with immoral, conning thieves? How do we know that this is terribly wrong?”
LORD, thanks that deep in our souls we know that Jesus is pure, trustable, powerful, and true. Use what we are learning from the example of Paul to help us to counter examples, like the Bakkers, with spiritual leaders who are humble, true, and caring.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!