Woe unto you, when all men
shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets."
(Luke 6:26, KJ) "You
are in trouble when everyone says good things about you. That is what your
own people said about those prophets who told lies."
People do not
characteristically want unpleasant
truths. They prefer
comforting lies. The false prophet understands this, and like his political
counterpart he seeks out that message he believes most people will approve.
Politicians do it by polls. They actually pay people to take samples of what
positions and platitudes people most want to hear, and then they go out and
say those very things. It is shallow in substance but profound in effect.
Preachers do the same thing, except that they do not need polls. Truth
unsettles us. We may be comfortable and satisfied, and then truth rebukes us
and "unsettles" us. A man of conscience will repent and change his life. But
sin-loving, self-willed men will oppose that truth. However, they want to
appear to love truth, so they seek out preachers who will preach what they
like. As Paul said:
".. [A]fter their own lusts
shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears."
It is a "self-feeding"
process. There are plenty of preachers and politicians who want to say what
people want to hear, and there are plenty of people who will reward the
preachers and politicians who do it. So the reality of it is that they are
actually looking for each other! It is therefore no compliment to a preacher
or politician to be particularly popular, and certainly such should never be
the goal. Consider Jeremiah's comment about his generation:
"The prophets prophesy
falsely and my people love to have it so .."
The empowerment and
credibility of the false prophet (and politician) is in the fact of his
popularity. "Look at his following!" they say. "That many people cannot be
wrong!" "He must surely be doing something, or a lot of things, right!" So
it goes! It is once again a "self-feeding" situation where preacher,
politician and people make each other feel good, all kinds of sin,
corruption and abuses notwithstanding.
But do not altogether blame
the preacher or the politician. It could not happen if the people did not
"love to have it so." Or if it was not for the fact, as Jesus said, that
"men love darkness rather than light."
Whatever else is true,
popularity is more of a sign of desertion of duty than a rendering of right.
Remember, Jesus said, "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you."