Religious Exploitation

by Oscar Miles

I have sometimes speculated about what would upset Jesus most if He came to live with us as a human as He did 2,000 years ago. I have contemplated many different scenarios through the years.

I have thought He would be angry at religious division when He prayed for unity as His death approached (John 17). I have speculated that He would be angry at the "liberals" for turning Christianity into a social institution. More recently, noting that Jesus seemed most upset 2,000 years ago with those who were too restrictive in their religion, I wondered if Jesus might be angry with those who had turned His gospel of freedom and grace into a list of rules similar to the Law of Moses or even Pharisaical tradition.

Today, I'm not sure I'm wise enough to know what upsets Jesus most as He looks down from His throne. I now think it is my own failure to show full appreciation for His grace (by complete submission) that might cause His greatest sadness, if not anger.

Then a friend gave me a letter from "Faith Media Ministries," and I was sure I held in my hands something that would have Jesus overturning the tables of the moneychangers (the bank accounts of shysters) if He walked our streets and surfed our Internet today.

This letter was sent to someone who doesn't even believe in God (and probably believes even less now!). It assured her that "a prayer account has been opened in your name." Even more specific, she now has a prayer account number: L90103-10000163096. (I changed one number so none of you will try to hack into her account and pilfer her prayers!)

Using Bible verses and (legitimate) principles, the letter appeals to the power of prayer. Christians believe in the power of prayer, and it sounds wonderful to have "many, many prayers" offered up for me personally "daily, weekly, monthly, all year long if you choose." Who would turn down prayers? To provoke even more interest, Faith Media Ministries "now guarantees You that the Prayers to be said for You are spoken in the words that reach God no matter what religion or Church you belong to."

But the letter said prayers would be offered "if you choose." How would she choose? Simply fill out the form with your prayer account number, name, address, city, state, zip, four lines on which to write prayer requests, preferred times and days for prayer.

Oh, there's one other incentive and requirement that goes with it. The incentive is they will send you "a welcome gift." Yes, they will send you "the First Coin of Christ!" They "want you to have it, own it, and just like a Crucifix, it is PROOF of Our Lord's Life and Birth."

Wait there's more! "This Coin was given to Mary and Joseph by the Three Wise Men at Jesus' Birth." (Footnote: *Coin is the original design reproduced in bronze and layered in Gold.) Yes, in case you didn't know it, the "3 Kings had this Coin made to show their faith in Prayers."

Please just accept all this blindly, since nothing is said in Scripture about how many Wise Men there were, the gift of a coin, or their faith in prayer! Never mind the (lack of) facts, because "all Documentation is included with this absolutely important and [sic] Proof of Christ's Birth Coin."

There you have it. In a coin reproduced from the original design of something we have no record of we have PROOF of Jesus' life! No doubt it is authentic because "Reverend Cliff [Robinson] is that same trusted Personification directing us to our Christ." (I hope God teaches him about English rules for capitalization and grammar soon!)

Oh yes, I almost forgot the all important requirement to get all these prayers and Coin of Proof of Jesus' Birth: "As a gesture of faith much like that of the Three Kings, we ask only that you enclose the small amount to cover the postage and handling costs of sending Your Coin . please just include $15 by your Check, Currency, or Money Order payable to Faith Media Ministries."

For this, they will apparently pray for you for AN ENTIRE MONTH! But there's good news. "By enclosing $30 we will continue praying for you for eight (8) weeks" and for "$60, Prayers will be offered for 6 months."

I chuckled at all this at first, but at typing up this article, it made me quite sick at my stomach.

Yes, I believe I can say with certainty that all such religious and spiritual exploitation and commercialization of His name makes Jesus very angry indeed. It should make us angry (with a righteous indignation) also!

Moral of the story: There is much done in the name of Jesus that He spews out of His mouth. May we spit it out as well, before it leaves a permanently bitter taste!