Preachers of LA and a Pastor from NC
Reality television is at it again with the Oxygen network show, “Preachers of LA.” I personally know most of the Pastors who are featured and I am not commenting on any of them personally but rather on this circus act that in no way properly represents the “Man of God.” The calling God has placed upon our lives is one of hiding behind the cross and decreasing so that God can be seen more clearly.
If I had only two words to describe reality television I would say, “not real” or maybe “cheap drama” would work. This is not to say there aren’t some elements of what is aired that is real but the vast majority of what you see is not real. But, it’s cheap drama for sure as this is super inexpensive television. There are no high dollar actors who need to be cast. Clearly given the poor subject verb agreement and sentence syntax, no screenwriters are being hired and there are no sets to construct. It’s cheap. An interesting word, as the one thing our faith is not is cheap.
Dietrich Boenhoeffer the German Lutheran Pastor and Theologian who wrote, The Cost of Discipleship” said, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” Something that I personally appreciated when Mel Gibson released his movie, The Passion of the Christ was that it was expensive to produce. Grace is expensive and what we have on television is cheap and it may represent man but it does not represent God.
The show does give us a reminder that Pastors are not perfect and I personally appreciate that. After all the Bible doesn’t say the pastor must be perfect; it says he must be blameless. There is a difference! The requirement of being blameless also does not mean that the pastor must fit everyone’s idea of what a pastor should be. That would be as impossible as attaining sinless perfection!
I know from personal experience that you will never please everyone and believe you me almost everyone has an opinion on how a pastor should look, what he should drive, where he should live, regarding his wife, children, how much he should earn, what entertainment he should experience and the list goes on and on. Clearly, it is impossible for a pastor to be blameless by human standards, but that is not what God requires. He must be blameless by the standards that are set forth in the Scriptures. This leads me to my single biggest issue of the show.
We must heed the caution that the greater your natural gifts and abilities, the more susceptible you are to entrapment by the world. It is clear that these men have great natural gifts. Men and women, with charismatic personalities and a commanding presence can operate too easily in the power of the flesh and not the Spirit. They can be deceived into believing their own press and the accolades showered on them by adoring followers. This gets even easier with a television camera and your own show. If they are not careful, they can begin to believe they have the right to operate by a different standard. My prayer is that our nation is not duped into missing God because we were so focused on man. It is also my prayer that we never fall victim to the illusion that a Pastor is held to a lesser standard.
There is no place in the church for spiritual superstars, who, like proud Diotrephes, love to have the preeminence (3 John 9). Preeminence is rightfully reserved for only one and his name is Jesus (Colossians 1:18). I do not want us lose sight of the fact that we are sinners saved by grace, or of who really matters and that is Jesus.
On a final note as we watch the show may we be reminded that this is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the fruit of the Gospel of Prosperity. How do you know the difference. There are at least three distinuishing marks of the real gospel.
It can be preached everywhere. A gospel that can’t be preached everywhere should not be preached anywhere. Bentleys, Rolexes, Mansions and bling do not translate in the poorest countries and communities in the world. When you are in Laos, Taiwan, Niger, Benin, Ethiopia or Yemen your status, lifestyle doesn’t communicate.
It is consistent with the entire scripture. First Timothy 6:6-10 specifically tells us of the danger and abomination of living with a craving and a desire for things. We are told specifically to be content as a result of godliness and not possessions. No, I am not anti-success not am I anti-things. It’s when you preach to live and not live to preach that I have the concern.
Jesus is the hero. Not James Gailliard. Not your Pastor. And certainly not Noel, Clarence, Wayne, Deitrick, Ron or Jay. Enough said.
Do you watch the show? What thoughts do you have?