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How To Impress
From MM Newsletter 40, July 2007, Page 07
Many evangelists have resorted to human methods to try and reach people.
They try and impress humanly.
But what is truly impressive to God is not what impresses man at all! And Vice versa.
By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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When I was in college, one of the coursework books offered was How To Win Friends and Influence People. The author was Dale Carnegie, whom we nicknamed Dale Carnality. And it was appropriate! For, if you seek to impress people, your motivation is selfish. You are trying to buy them by false behaviour which is carnal, fleshly.
To impress, you have to maintain a ‘front’, a false image of yourself. You try and appear good or in some way appealing to them. That is humbug. You become a pretender, a fraud, a fake.
You can see this frequently in politicians who are trying to win people to themselves, to impress others for selfish advantage and gain. And many of them resort to lies, cunning deceit, and trickery to get what they want – a following.
“Trust me” they say.
God says, “Trust no man” (Jer 17:5; Ps 146:3).
Jesus warned, “Beware of men..!” (Matt 10:17).
You are not called to follow men per se. You are called to follow Christ, the Saviour of humanity.
When Paul wrote: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1), he was not wanting a following for himself. He didn’t want people following him as such. He wanted to see people note that anything good in his example was as a result of Christ living in him by His Spirit (Gal 2:20). He was dead against sectarianism and cultism, when people follow others instead of Jesus (1 Cor 1:10-13).
Paul did not seek to impress as ordinary men do. He wrote:
My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in dem- onstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Cor 2:4). In presence [I] am lowly among you (2 Cor 10:1).
It’s hard to believe, but he was actually NOT at all impressive to people on a human level:
When I came to you, I did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling (1 Cor 2:1-3).
“For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak and his speech contemptible.” (2 Cor 10:10.)
Paul wouldn’t have made a very good modern stage- or tele-evangelist! But he was highly qualified in handling the Word of God. He knew ‘his stuff’! He accurately conveyed God’s truth. That, of course, didn’t make him popular. Some might have considered him a bit of a bore if it hadn’t been for the accounts of the miracles God performed at his hands (Acts 15:12).
Paul knew his limitations, but he also knew that he held God’s truth in its purity, and that’s what matters most:
Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in [spiritual] knowledge... (2 Cor 11:6a).
Who Gets The Money?
People aren’t as interested in purity of truth today as they are in being entertained. So, the guys with the big followings are invariably false ministers (not all of them, but many of them) with a great ability to preach and shine charisma. Not the charisma that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 12, but the human version. They have learned the art of deception – how to win friends and influence people.
It begins with impressing others.
Tricksters like Rodney Howard-Browne, and his laughing spirits; false prophets like the Kansas City prophets, Rick Joyner, or Kenneth Copeland; and mega-evangelists and false teachers by the score have dominated the evangelical stage by using clever techniques of manipulation and persuasion. They can move audiences by what they say and how they say it. They touch hearts and minds, affecting, impacting and swaying them.
Because they are effective in their manner and speech, people listen, heed, and follow. The majority are not discerning enough to realise that the ‘truth’ they imbibe is mixed with error. They swallow that as well.
The performance artist is not bothered much about truth versus error. He’s bothered about ratings. What can he do to get what he wants? – the greatest number of people to listen to him, to believe him, and to support him. In one word – cash!
Out of this mentality has grown an evangelical mega-industry, with billions of dollars slushing around its coffers. Someone told me not so long ago that Rick Joyner claimed to have so much money – millions, I guess – that he ‘boastfully’ announced if any other ministry was short of funds they could ask him for a loan.
We are short of funds, but I wouldn’t ask him for a loan. I ask the One who has all the silver and gold at His disposal (Hag 2:8), and trust Him to provide, even if He lets us go short like the apostle Paul did at times (2 Cor 11:8-9).
Most people are foolish, like sheep, and make a completely wrong deduction. They think that the evidence of God’s support for these large ministries is in the money that pours in. And they assume that because they have all this wealth, they therefore have God’s approval, and must be true ministers. Because so many believers give their tithes to these men, new sheep gullibly sign up and make these (mostly) false ministers richer still!
It’s a pity humanity is so easily deceived by illusions, and physical appearance. It’s a pity they are ignorant of some facts. Instead of being so easily impressed by the wealth and influence of these megatricksters they should learn a few simple truths.
Wealth totals 666 in Greek. Tradition (following men) also adds up to 666 in the Greek NT text. And we are warned against accepting the mark of the beast or the number (666) of his name (Rev 13:17,18).
He deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do... telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast... (Rev 13:14.)
The description portrays the beast of Rome, whose human government, achievements, conquests and domination impressed a lot of people. And the image represents an object of universal worship that is modelled on this beast. It has various fulfilments, but you cannot fail to see one in the monolith of the Catholic Church whose hierarchic government is a replica (image) of that of Rome’s civil domination.
The description also befits any other ecclesias- tical set-ups and ministers whose impressive style or influence becomes an object of equal worship. ‘Charismatic Church’ take heed!!
What Impresses God
So what, then, impresses God? If we are to beware letting men impress us in human terms, what, in spiritual terms, are we to be impressed by?
Here are 25 things that impress God in human conduct and character:
Cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast (2 Cor 11:12).
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