Peddlers or Preachers?

There are few things more annoying than someone trying to sell you something.  I deal with it all the time here in Philly.  I just try to go out for a walk or to grab something to eat, and I am met by people trying to sell me something.  It’s bad enough in everyday life, but it’s even worse in the church.

In 2 Corinthians 2:17, Paul makes mention of the fact that there were peddlers that were creeping into the church.  The word he uses for peddlers refers to “hucksters.” It literally means “to retail.”  The mindset of the world had started to creep into the church, and preachers had instead started to become salesmen.

Now this may not sound like a huge deal.  After all, aren’t we supposed to persuade people to follow Jesus?  Of course we are, but we are supposed to persuade them using the power of God, not cheap tricks and gimmicks.  If this offends you then I apologize in advance, but the main goal of the church is not to have brilliant light shows and nice coffeehouses.  I’m not against either one of those things, but they shouldn’t be the focal point of the church.  We should always focus on the demonstration of the Spirit of God.

You will have to forgive me because I am very passionate about this subject.  I have seen way too much of the peddlers and parlor tricks in my short 33 years on this earth.  There are too many people trying to sell something, and it’s not the truth.  They are seeking to create followers of themselves, not followers of Jesus.

Paul isn’t the only one to mention this either.  The subject is all throughout the epistles.  Every single epistle writer warns his audience of the dangers of following false preachers.  The truth is something to be treasured and defended, not peddled and hustled.

In reality, we don’t have to sell the truth.  It is what it is.  Jesus never made any kind of attempt to sell anything to anyone.  As a matter of fact, he drove those who were buying and selling out of the temple.  Jesus simply told the truth, and you either believed it or you didn’t believe it.  He didn’t determine the success of his ministry by the number of followers he had, but rather by doing the will of God.  One thing is for sure, and that is that Jesus NEVER changed the truth.

Our mindsets have got to change.  We can’t view the gospel as something that must be sold, but instead we must view it as something to be lived.  This is why Paul contrasted the peddlers with the preachers of truth.  The peddlers are only in it for themselves, while the preachers are in it for the salvation of others.  We have to decide whether we will be peddlers or preachers.

At some point, the games and gimmicks have got to end, and we have got to find our way back to the truth.  Social media is a breeding ground for these types of hucksters and hustlers.  People will put all kinds of clever cliches and quotes on Facebook to get likes and shares.  That isn’t the purpose of the preacher.  The preacher must always relate the truth, even when people don’t like it.

I would encourage you to always take what you hear at church, and measure it against the word of God.  Paul told Timothy to “Study to show yourself approved unto God.” Don’t just sit on a church pew and take everything you hear as gospel truth.  Search it out for yourself, and you will be approved of God.

Photo by Stephen Radford on Unsplash

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