Comfort for a fool and a deceived?
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.
–– Matthew 18:15
This may have been a point missed by Pastor Paul Leacock when last Sunday he laid waste fellow preachers for offering healing to the very sick at a price. He wasn’t remotely impressed with those Christian leaders who were using their churches as a one-stop store or supermarket for all cures for every ailment.
And, he made no bones about it –– publicly.
Maybe, Pastor Leacock did go and identify privately these faults he saw in the offending pastors, and got nowhere with it. He may even have been rebuffed.
To be truthful, we aren’t exactly told what next to do when we go to our brother or sister and point out their faults “just between the two of you”, and suffer ourselves reprimand, rejection and contemptuous dismissal.
It appears we are left to apply logic and common sense, which would suggest that we need to protect our other brothers and sisters from being preyed upon when they are most vulnerable.
Preaching to a congregation that included members of the Barbados Cancer Support Services marking their 18th anniversary at the First Baptist Church on Constitution Road in The City, Pastor Leacock expressed his disgust of those religious leaders who would do the “cruel thing” of promising the sick and their friends and family a full healing for merely believing and sowing a seed.
Of course, you sow a seed by planting some money in the pastor’s hands. We know oh, too well, like Pastor Leacock, that the invoking of Jesus’ name by a preacher, no matter how loudly and how often in any one minute, doesn’t guarantee any relief from sickness, furthermore a deep healing –– not if God Almighty isn’t profoundly and mercifully involved.
“I can pray till the cows come home,” Pastor Leacock was moved to say. “I can pray until Blackbelly sheep become Whitebelly sheep [which would be a miracle itself], God only does his dramatic works when we are doing His [bidding].”
We have the goodly pastor’s back when it comes to chiding people who would seek to market Jesus’ name as some lucky charm or spare deistic invocation; but we advise against assuming that all miracles not wrought are because of the implied failing of the afflicted –– or even healer –– to do God’s bidding. The Almighty may have another reason, beyond our comprehension or imagination.
Let’s take the Apostle Paul, who could hardly have been accused of not doing God’s bidding, who didn’t quarrel much about his roller-coastering life and rejection by his fellow man, and was minded to write once from prison.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
–– Philippians 4:10 to 13.
Whether he was hungry or filled, in pain or relief, with scarcity or abundance, broken or whole, sick or well, he was able to endure, through the same Christ who strengthened him, and he was content whatever his lot –– even to his death in Rome by beheading on account of his missionary work for Jesus.
Yes, Pastor Leacock, there is no paucity of examples of the utter misuse of scripture, false teaching and, in some cases, blatant heresy –– among it all the healing mantras and prosperity chants. We can buy the misinformation in books, download it on the Internet, even tune in to it on YouTube.
We could easily fall for the buzz and hum of the sweet talkers offering hope –– false though it be –– desperate as we are, eventually at a price, if not before. The influence can be so mesmerizing, it can have us giving of the very little we have,
for a future holy lottery, even ignoring paying our utilities bills.
Such are the power and vulnerability associated with what’s termed the prosperity gospel. The problem is if you fail to prosper, it’s because you somehow failed in your relationship with God.
So the wealthy feel virtuous and blessed, and the poor keep paying, at the risk of being perpetually depressed –– much like paying those, who careth really not, with our lives for that cure.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
–– Galatians 5:14 and 15.
How much more prophetic could Paul have been?