False Prophets, Pro$perity, and Website Woes
It’s happened again—yet another website making a special (desperate?) appeal for funds from its readers. This time the solicitor is none other than World Net Daily, following hard on the heels of several other popular sites.
You know the pitch: “Look at all we’re doing for you. Why, you just can’t get by without us, can you? And look at how large our readership is. Man, our Alexa ratings are going through the roof! Surely you ought to support us financially, right?”
All of this for someone who visits the site for, maybe, three minutes a day?
Here the old saying “caveat emptor” applies: “Let the buyer beware.” It’s an interesting fact that Jesus charged no fee for His services—much less His miracles. His was a life of service. Of course, people made offerings and gifts of money to Him. But He never solicited money from anyone.
Still, webmasters whine, “But money is the bottom line, and we’ve got to have it to succeed.” True, but you’ve got to work to earn money to pay for the necessities of life. Don’t forget the First Law of the Internet: “Everyone tends to watch their own backside.” You’ll find another rule equally applicable in the Bible: “Father provides.” And doesn’t anybody ever think about downsizing?
Today, false prophets fill our television sets with their constant appeals for money. A recent edition of Prime Time Live that focused on the expensive lifestyles of televangelists stands as a warning to all thinking people. What appears as Christianity might not be Christianity at all. There are churches that preach prosperity from the pulpit yet bribe the flock to receive a blessing from them. And people still fall for their pitiable cries for help.
The Lord Jesus said it was impossible to serve God and Mammon (wealth) at the same time. I run across “Christian” organizations with worldly advertising, shamelessly sending out mailers begging for money. In my judgment, Christian websites with money-making banners and pop-up links are abominable and only lead to avarice.
Here’s a radical thought: God can supply the needs of a God-ordained ministry without it pleading for money. Where do you see Jesus asking for cash? Where do you see the prophet Agabus asking for green stuff? The truth ought to be free. Al least free from begging. The correlation between ego and money is just too strong to be ignored—or fed.
The Didache, a church manual written in the second century, puts it well: “But concerning the apostles and prophets, act according to the decree of the Gospel. Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain more than one day; or two days, if there’s a need. But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges.”
And then the writer adds, “If he asks for money, he is a false prophet.”
Get the point?
God’s work must be done by God’s people in God’s way. It is not by might nor by power but by His Spirit. The manna for today’s food must come from above. There is no danger of a Mother Hubbard experience when we trust God because His cupboard is never bare.
April 22, 2003
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.