'Drinking the Kool-Aid' in urban slang, has nothing to do with that wonderful, fruity drink we guzzled by the gallon when we were kids. It refers to the 1978 cult mass-suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. Televangelist, Jim Jones, took cyanide and some kind of sedative and mixed it with Kool-Aid to poison his massive following at Jonestown. It may have been Flavor Aid, but no matter what he used, we know what it means when somebody says, "Don't drink the Kool-Aid!"
I watch a great deal of religious TV, mostly because it's what I write about. Some of it moves me, most of it—does not. Watching one particular televangelist recently, I was moved to tears. Not because of what he was saying, singing, or pushing. It was the faces in the crowd that kept me glued to the screen. Each face was wet with tears. Those precious people, reaching out for hope, for a healing, for God. Their hands raised, these folks had come to that great arena to worship, receive a blessing, and touch the hem of their Creator. It grieved me so, I eventually had to change the channel.
I sure hope that televangelist knows the tremendous responsibility on his shoulders. I wonder.
The new face of televangelism is still pretty much the old face. One of prosperity messages and miracles. The difference is that the audience has grown by mega leaps and mega bounds. In a bad economy, a great majority turns to God for help. They’re attracted by those prosperity messages. The problem as I see it, televangelists can lead sheep to the slaughter like nothing and no one else. They can bring out the tears and sell God better than Tony the Tiger sells cornflakes. They can whip up a batch of Kool-Aid, knowing millions of honest hearts would drink it. And for some reason, we Christians are hesitant to hold our pastors accountable for what they say and do. They don't have to be perfect. In fact, I'd prefer if they were not. But we tend to overlook these rock stars of religion, and confuse the human with the divine, believing every word they speak comes from The Almighty.
Many years ago, I never missed church. I believed, tithed, raised my hands in every service, answered hundreds of altar calls, and gave love offerings instead of paying my light bill. I trusted and obeyed. Sowed my prosperity seeds and read every prosperity scripture over and over again. I gave out of my need. For years I lined the pockets of a pastor who traveled around the world, taking my husband with him, leaving me to suffer alone at home. Until one day I asked myself this question. Do I feed my kids or pay my tithe? I fed my kids.
For years I had loved my preacher, believed in my pastor, and gave everything I had, including my spouse, to the televangelist my pastor had become. In the end, it didn’t matter because I rebelled and “sealed my fate.” I was rejected, divorced, and eventually homeless.
Is there such a thing as a good televangelist? No doubt some possess honest hearts with admirable intentions. But it’s tough to retain those intentions, that good heart, the humility required and pay for expensive TV time. I speak from experience. Be careful. Don’t be a gullible Christian. The wolves are still out there. And so is the Kool-Aid.
Blessings to you and yours.