Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Emotional Manipulation

I was thinking about a preacher I used to know.  Not about him specifically, but about his style of preaching.  He was tall, had a commanding presence, and he was a showman who could hold the congregation in the palm of his hand.  He would always start off with a heart-wrenching story and use that to get his message across.  People responded by giving their money, their time or their lives to his cause. 

"His cause" - the preacher's cause, not necessarily to the Lord. You see, I don't know where any of them stood with the Lord.  Many of them would start off with enthusiasm and then drift away.  Many of them were hurt when they saw the human failings of the preacher and his team.  Many felt used. 
It did not seem to worry the preacher because he could always enlist more followers - such was his charisma, his magnetism to people.

This got me thinking about why I am turned off by that style of preaching and wondering whether or not I am over-reacting.  Preaching that incites a knee-jerk emotional response is not the ideal.  It is not an example that comes from the Bible.  In fact emotional responses are not to be trusted according to my Bible.  The heart is deceitful Jeremiah says in chapter 17, verse 9.  The knee-jerk reaction is like the seed that falls in rocky places. It springs up quickly, because the soil is shallow. But when the sun comes up, the plants are scorched, and they wither because they have no root. That is Jesus' parable, not mine.

He should know.  The crowd welcoming him to Jerusalem were an emotional lot.  It was a great day with lots of cheers and hosannas.  Within days, where were they?  Were they the same ones who yelled "Crucify him!" and who would rather have the murderer, Barabbas, released than Jesus?  Emotional backflips don't get worse than that.

Emotions are great.  They are part of what makes us human.
We just have to be careful about how and when we trust them, especially when someone else has something to gain from our emotional response.

Have you regretted some decisions you've made in a knee-jerk, emotional reaction?
I think we all have those sort of regrets.

1 comment:

  1. Completely agree with you about this. Have learned to trust first instincts, but this is not the same thing as quick emotional responses. I often get these and can rarely trust them. Also feel the same way about that style of preaching. They are not in it for God's glory, but their own.

    And thank you for your encouraging comments on my blog.