Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Glamorous Televangelists: Would Jesus Christ Wear Rolex and Fly HIS Own Jet Today?

Televangelism (Christianity through television) is a blessing to many. Televangelism enables those who cannot worship the Lord in a church setting to worship HIM in their own homes. The elders, the sick, those living in countries without freedom to worship, and those with various other difficult predicaments are beneficiaries of televangelism.

Prior to televangelism, corporate worship happened once a week. With the advent of televangelism, one can worship the Lord with other believers, albeit not in the same room, every day and at almost any time. Christian television channels and televangelists offer this wonderful privilege.

While televangelism is a blessing, it’s also the bane of the 21st century Christianity. ‘Celebritynetworth.com’ reports the net worth of televangelists / Christian preachers as follows:

David Oyedepo:         $ 150 Million
Pat Robertson:            $ 100 Million
Benny Hinn:                $   42 Million
Joel Osteen:                 $   40 Million
Crefflo Dollar:            $   27 Million (Owns a private jet, two Rolls-Royces…)
Billy Graham:              $   25 Million
T.D Jakes:                   $   18 Million
Joyce Meyer:               $     8 Million (Owns a private jet)
John Hagee:                $     5 Million
Eddie Long:                $     5 Million
Paula White:                $     5 Million

Most, if not all, of the listed celebrity preachers, are authors and may own other businesses. So their income and net worth could be an outcome of their businesses. Once again it’s not my intent to question their income or net worth.

But I most intentionally and surely question the celebrity preachers’ inexcusably loud appeal for more and more donations.

A common man with insignificant net worth (those whose net worth is a mere fraction of these celebrity preachers) donates to these ministries as if he is giving to the Lord. In a few or many instances, people who give to these ministries do not own sufficient resources themselves.

In other words, those in extreme poverty give graciously out of their severe trial and beyond their ability, to these ministries (cf. 2 Corinthians 8: 2-3). They are inspired by the poor widow (Mark 12: 41-44).

So my question to these rich televangelists/preachers is, “why don’t you first take money out of your own pockets before you plead for donations from others?”

I am simply not inclined to give even a penny to any of these celebrity preachers when there are more than a million missionaries in the ministry with zilch (almost nothing), and their families living in wretched poverty. 

I ask the same question to all the rich churches that plead for more and more in the pretense of poverty or need.

The fact remains that these preachers and the rich churches continue amassing more and more wealth that when they become richer, their donors become poorer. This is rank evil.

Most of these celebrity preachers live in such glamour that they render some actors insignificant! These preachers live in mansions, drive fancy cars, wear designer attire, own yachts, private jets and what not!

Of this we can be sure, none of these celebrity preachers are in poverty. Of this we can also be sure, some or most of their donors live in utter mediocrity.

In this perspective, these celebrity preachers and rich churches are nauseating, especially when they plead for more and more donations.

I am not saying that those serving the Lord should live in abject poverty. The Bible does not teach this principle. In fact, the Bible teaches that when we first seek God and HIS Kingdom, the material blessings would follow (cf. Matthew 6: 33).

One mystery in God’s Kingdom is that some preachers receive more and many preachers receive nothing - almost. But it’s the quantum of these material blessings that are always in contention.

Would one car satisfy the missionary or would he/she need a car for every member of the family? Would a mere Toyota comfort the preacher or would he only be contented with a Mercedes or a BMW?

Of course, basic necessities are needed for the preacher/missionary – home, clothes, food, children’s education, medical cover, phone, computer and the likes. If the preacher/missionary’s family has four members, wouldn’t a 3 bedroom home suffice? Shouldn’t a 3 bedroom home, in itself, be considered a luxury? 

Did I say that these televangelists and celebrity preachers have become the curse (bane) of 21st century Christianity? Yes!

When questioned about her private jet, Joyce Meyer had the audacity to respond that the Lord Jesus Christ, if HE were here today, would own a private jet.1

This is an unacceptable statement from a person of her stature. To say precisely how the God incarnate would be, if HE were to live in today’s world, is to feign absolute and infinite knowledge. There simply is no humility in her statement.

Her statement totally contradicts Christ’s unmitigated disinterest in worldly wealth (cf. Matthew 8: 20, 19: 21 et al.). But what else would you expect of a preacher who preaches prosperity gospel?

Humility is a much-needed virtue. So should we merely manifest humility from the heart and not from our material holdings?

Humility is not a mere manifestation of the human heart, but humility ought to be manifested from the perspective of worldly wealth as well. Why do these uber famous celebrity preachers not exhibit humility in their material possessions?

Not only do they not exhibit humility in their personal possessions, they continue to scream for more donations.

When they have more than they actually need, why ask for more and that from a poor donor?

Why don’t they bring their net worth down to 100,000 dollars and then ask for more money from the public? Is this a tough task for these celebrity preachers?

Going by their present track record, I most surely think so.

Would the Lord Jesus Christ wear a Rolex and fly in HIS own private jet today?

To say that HE would wear a Rolex and fly in HIS own jet is to rob HIM of HIS divinity. God, the owner of all that was, is, and that will be, does not require the identity or the pleasure of a Rolex or a private jet.

To say that HE would wear an ordinary wristwatch and fly in a commercial airline is justifiable. To say that HE would live in abject poverty or as an ascetic seems farfetched.

Why then did Joyce Meyer audaciously claim that Christ would fly HIS own private jet today? To defend her wealth and expose her hypocrisy! Why else!?

Rather than speculate on what Christ would do, we may as well practice what HE would want us to do.

To enjoy basic necessities is reasonable. To desire for minimal luxuries of life is a reasonable prayer.

To live happily with what has been given, even if nothing is given, is holy (lifestyle). This is what Christ would want us to do.

But a great joy would erupt in the heavenly realms when the disciple of the Lord emulates the grace of giving of the wonderful believers of the Macedonian church. This is what Christ would want us to do.

May these fascinating words minister to our souls and may we sincerely and graciously meet the needs of those around us instead of amassing wealth that denies the Lord, “Now, my brothers, we must tell you about the grace that God had given to the Macedonian churches. Somehow, in most difficult circumstances, their joy and the fact of being down to their last penny themselves, produced a magnificent concern for other people. I can guarantee that they were willing to give to the limit of their means, yes and beyond their means, without the slightest urging from me or anyone else. In fact they simply begged us to accept their gifts and so let them share the honours of supporting their brothers in Christ. Nor was their gift, as I must confess I had expected, a mere cash payment. Instead they made a complete dedication of themselves first to the Lord and then to us, as God’s appointed ministers” (2 Corinthians 8: 1-5, Phillips, Emphasis Mine).  

We cannot give as the Macedonians if we do not have the grace from God. But if we do desire earnestly (pray) for that grace, we can surely give graciously and give even beyond our means without the slightest urging from anyone. With the grace of God, we can dedicate ourselves completely to the Lord and then to the needs of our brothers and sisters.

Am I wrong in saying that if our celebrity preachers had this grace and if they had been completely dedicated to the Lord and to the needs around them, they would not boast huge net worth? Instead, they would find worth in giving and giving to the point it would hurt them.

So I challenge the rich celebrity preachers, “Do you have the faith in God to bring your worldly possessions to very luxurious $100, 000?” Can you emulate the Macedonian believers and that poor widow whom Christ glorified?

If these rich celebrity preachers cannot bring their worldly possessions to very luxurious $100, 000, they are blackmailing and cheating the ordinary believer, which is a sin against the holy God.  

Why then do they ask for more money from people? In my humble opinion, they ask for money to give 40% to their ministries/charities and keep 60% to themselves.

I do not have any facts or figures to prove this audacious claim of mine, but otherwise, how on earth would their net worth grow in millions?

But let me be fair in my criticism. At least, we can gain access to the net worth of the American or the African celebrity preacher, but we do not have the slightest clue to the income of an Indian televangelist!  

Come, Lord Jesus, come soon and deliver us from the clutches of evil. Amen.



Moses Daniel said...

Dear Raj, a true and valid issue to be pondered. These glamorous televangelists, do their ministries among the high class Christians only. Really the true ministry happens in the villages and jungles, where the ministers face a lot of problems and sufferings. If those glamorous televangelists, really want to serve the Lord, they can easily support those ministers who really are in need of resources. Thanks for your insight into the subject.

Raj Richard said...

Thank you for your comment, Moses Annan. I agree with you. God bless you.