Evangelicals: Prophets or profits?


On the news recently, I witnessed several evangelical church leaders laying hands on and praying for our president. And that made me wonder. I thought about two very different men with distinctly dissimilar ways of relating to and leading others.

One man came humbly, thereby showing that he did not consider that even equality with God Himself was something to be used to his own advantage. Instead, as the records affirm, he emptied himself of pride and self-importance so that rather than dominating, and exploiting others for personal advantage, he could compassionately serve them to the fullest extent possible.

The other man descended from the skies in his very own jumbo jet with his name prominently emblazoned on its side, all a clear and certain tribute to himself. He came with an extensive record of shamelessly exploiting, manipulating and intimidating others. That record clearly shows that he did all this with but a single goal in mind — personal gain, which included, of course, enhancing his own reputation, and no matter the costs to others, accumulating enormous wealth for himself.

I wondered how it was possible for those who claim to be followers of the first man to find the second man appealing at all, let alone worthy of their admiration. Might they be deceived or perhaps deluded?

My questions are not primarily political. To the contrary, they have everything to do with spiritual soundness and clarity of discernment, certainly not the stuff of the murky waters in which political machinations are hatched.

I fear the Christian church, including its evangelical wing, has too often been an eager participant in, rather than a prophetic counter to, the dominant culture's love affair with money, control and materialistic excess.

In failing to differentiate itself from that culture's twisted values, the church seems to have lost its ability to hear the voice of God in the anguished cries of human despair that inevitably follow gross injustices and failures of compassion by institutional leaders. It should be no great surprise the church also seems to have lost its ability to see the mounting evidence of earth's failing health.

Given all of the foregoing and related to it, was it not heartening to see the outpouring of compassion after hurricane Harvey hit Houston and left so much loss and suffering in its wake? Could it be that, human happiness and well-being is not tied exclusively to personal advantage, but instead, as the humble man taught us, it has less to do with our gains and more to do with helping other people, sharing, and giving? Go figure.