“Preachers of L.A.,” move over. (We’re talking the new Oxygen Channel reality TV series.) With all your Bentleys and bling, you’ve got competition. Your economic excesses, bragging rights to materialism in the name of God, and questionable lifestyles are being upstaged by a German Priest. Sure, you brag about living in Malibu and tell your critics to buzz off. (“The conversation should no longer be about whether it’s of God and all this kind of stuff and whether God is going to pass judgment – no no no.” – Deitrick Haddon, one of the show’s stars.) Sorry to tell you that you’ve been upstaged by a German Bishop who just remodeled his house for $42 million, at the expense of the Catholic Church. That earned him a suspension from none other than Pope Francis. The priest, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, filled his new abode with priceless artwork and a $20,000 bathtub. In Franz’s case, the money came from the Catholics of Germany who are required by law to pay up to 10% of their income to support the Church. In case of the LA Preachers, there’s no such extortion, and no Pope to yank their chain and call a halt to the madness.
Now I’ve admittedly only seen one episode, which sickened me enough to avoid watching again. Do we really need cameras behind the scenes as these self-indulgent preachers lay bare their personal problems, including the inability to sustain relationships and promiscuous dalliances leading to illegitimate children? One outspoken black pastor, Michael Fisher of the Greater Zion Church Family of Compton California, put it this way: “They are giving the world ammunition to shoot back at the church and not accept the message that it is trying to convey. They’ve sold out. It will call for pastors all over the country to have to defend their integrity because these men have decided to chase their dream of being in the public eye.”
The architect for the German Bishop’s residence says he was told by the potentate priest, “Create a house of God that will still be full of dignity in a century — no limits on spending.” That’s the same attitude on the “Preachers of LA,” that they are somehow entitled to live high and loose without criticism. No one begrudges them living well for working hard. The “laborer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7); but there is a point beyond which it’s distasteful for a preacher on national TV to brag about his “Bentleys and bling” as if he deserved it for being a pastor. You and I are not the ultimate judges of the priest in Germany and the preachers in Los Angeles, but in an age when an economic collapse has devastated the financial dreams of so many, some moderation seems in order. Too bad there isn’t a Protestant Pope to take action. In the words of a publication known as The Log Angeles Wave,” This is a hit on the church, an institution that is in “rehab.” The church is trying to rehabilitate itself from the very type of imagery that this show projects, of the jack-leg, over-materialistic, skirt-chasing, prosperity-preaching con men that television evangelism has projected for three decades. Well, “Preachers of L.A.” just brought it back. Preachers fighting and arguing on television, in between getting in their Bentleys and Benzes, is not the depiction the struggling church wants to project.”
An encouraging word: THE BIBLE
Psalm 8:3 declares, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place…” You probably know the rest of the passage about David standing in awe at the wonders of the universe and of man as God’s creation. Focus on this first part that declares God made the heavenly bodies with purpose and wonder. David realized that God was sovereign over his life because He is the source of all that exists. There was no evolutionary ascendancy of man from something lower to something higher. Man was created higher to begin with. As verse five of this chapter says, “You made him [man] a little lower than the heavenly beings [angels].”
Bob Larson has trained healing and deliverance teams all over the world to set the captives free and Do What Jesus Did (Luke 4:18). You can partner with Bob and support this vision to demonstrate God’s power in action by calling 303-980-1511 or clicking here to donate online.