His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Another story of “Christian” ego

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“State social workers were interviewing children who live at the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries just south of Texarkana.” The newspaper article mentioned nothing about actual evidence of any kind of abuse. What caught my attention in this article was the name of the compound being raided; the “Tony Alamo Christian Ministries.”

If I knew nothing about Christianity, I would be tempted to conclude, from the name of the ministry, that Christianity is all about drawing attention to yourself. The “Tony Alamo Christian Ministries;” – note whose name comes first.

Now I know nothing about Mr. Alamo. There’s not much information in the article attesting to his Christian faith; that is, it’s hard to tell what kind of a Christian he is. Yet the one statement I’ve quoted appears to tell me a lot. If I were to make an observation based on first impressions, I would say that Mr. Alamo has a sizeable ego, and that “his” ministry is more about him than about Jesus Christ. Now I realize I could be totally wrong here, since I know almost nothing about the daily workings of this ministry. But it’s hard for me to ignore the impact of the name.

I wonder what Jesus’ first impression might be, when observing the “Tony Alamo Christian Ministry.” Might He remind us of what John the Baptist said (see this post about John’s humility)…

“He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)

As Jesus himself said, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

I leave with this message to Mr. Alamo: Sir, I know nothing about who you are or where your heart is, other than by what you have named your ministry. Yet from that, I believe you have set yourself ahead of Jesus. Please prayerfully consider your heart and your motives, and your relationship with Jesus. And know this, those who humble themselves on earth, will be exalted in heaven. It’s the truth and a promise you can count on.

Author: CJ Penn

First, my writing isn't about me. Don’t want the attention, don’t want to feed my ravenous ego (yep, I’m just a typical pride-plagued human). But I love writing - it gets me out of bed when it's way too dark, just so I can do some writing before heading off to work. I write because I’m passionate about God, Jesus, His Spirit, and His truth. And, I feel the Holy Spirit gets shortchanged in the world we call Christianity. The truth is sometimes lacking too.

One thought on “Another story of “Christian” ego

  1. I’ve heard this before. I’ve had friends kid about starting a ministry and calling it by their name. You know like “John Doersky ministries.” Then they ask me if I’ve read their new book, “Humility: How I achieved it.” It features a flattering picture of their smiling face on the cover. They also just cut a new hit single, “It’s all about Me—” We could go on and on.

    Seriously, I think it is humble to accept being called by your name or a respectable nickname. Jesus called Simon “Peter” or “Cephas.” John was “John” (or “Boanerges”). Paul was “Paul.” They were never “Pastor Cephas,” or “Father John,” or “Pope Peter,” or “Apostle Paul.” We wrote about that before.

    People also have surnames, though they are not as prolific in the scriptures as they seem to be today. Peter was “Simon bar Jonah” and also became known as “Simon Peter.” There was also Lebbaeus Thaddeus and John Mark. I use my surname to identify myself and my family because we all share the same name. My family is a cohesive unit — we eat together, sleep together, live together, work together, and do ministry together.

    We are simply the Maulis family. But others have done something to create a corporation. Corporations are legal entities that can hold property and assets and also protect or limit the liability of the officers. It is a legal way of separating what belongs to a man or men, and what belongs to their company, business, ministry or church.

    There is debate about whether churches should incorporate or not, but most of what we recognize as “churches” or “ministries” today are non-profit corporations. The tax code in the US automatically assigns such corporations that are “churches” 501(C)3 status. Non-church non-profits can also apply for 501(C)3 status which gives them the same tax-exemptions. The status also comes with restrictions: notably they are prohibited from any political activities and from endorsing political candidates. Read more about that if you’re interested.

    Now the point is that if someone should form a non-profit corporation to provide the legal basis of the existence of their church or ministry so that it can own property, assets, open bank accounts, buy insurance policies and so on, the corporation needs a name. They can name it anything they want. They can choose some “fictitious” name like “Soaring Eagle Ministries,” “Lakeland Ministries” or they can just use their own name. Because a fictitious name is the product of their imagination, it may hardly be more humble than the name that was given to them by others.

    People and churches that choose not to incorporate out of an ideology can face some tough obstacles, especially if they are not already well established. They can either operate as a bunch of individuals, owning church assets in their personal names, or they can choose one of a few other means using unincorporated associations, trusts and so on which are much less familiar to most people and can present risks especially in the face of litigation.

    Those of us who have received Jesus Christ are the church. We name all kinds of things after ourselves, even our own children.


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