Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past 48 hours, you’ve probably seen the video by now. Sunday, during a service at T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House Church, Tyler Perry stood before the congregation and announced a sizable $1 million dollar donation to a youth center the church is developing. Before he took his seat though, he went into a small sermonette about favor, the blood of Jesus, the necessity of enemies in our lives, and moving when God speaks. He even broke out some tongues. But the thing that topped everything off was Perry praying a blessing upon Bishop Jakes, culminating in him laying hands on the popular pastor. My timeline exploded with video footage from the live service yesterday. There were skeptics and supporters.
Some of the comments I saw on social media:
Really? Tyler Perry preaching?
I would jerk like that too if I had just received a check for $1 million and someone smacked me on the head.
The Church is in an uproar about Tyler Perry laying hands on T.D. Jakes…..Christians can be so hateful.
I’ve read all the comments. Processed all the RT’s. And I’m torn. How can you not like the philanthropic Perry donating $1 million dollars to a youth center? If anyone needs a donation in our culture, it’s the youth. We got little 1-year-old babies being shot dead in the streets. A young, black teenager was just tried and convicted for shooting another infant point-blank in the face in my hometown. This youth center could provide a positive alternative for kids like him. Alternatives that could potentially cause some troubled youth to lead productive lives, rather than become part of the system.
I’m torn. I have my reservations. While most will attack Jakes and Perry personally for their lavish lifestyles, I’m more concerned about the perception that some in church culture have created. I’m not exactly sure if it’s Gospel-centered either. The idea that blessings are tied to our giving has caused some to distort the intended meaning of giving. We don’t give to be blessed, we give because we are blessed. I’m afraid that many who watched the clip would think that blessing is somehow attached to how much you give. If I only had a million to give… is what some start to think. But you don’t. And it’s okay. Really, it is.
All Christians aren’t called to be rich (though most Christians in the Western hemisphere are rich when we consider global poverty). Not all Christians are going to make seven figures—and maybe not even six-figures. The “dollar increment” call that went out yesterday during the live service at the Potter’s House (i.e. “Those who want to give $1,000…$100…”) started with the call to give $1 million dollars. Imagine how inadequate some folks felt when there was only one (or maybe a few) people who could make such a sizable donation.
I imagine the woman from Luke’s Gospel. Jesus looked and saw the rich putting their gifts in the offering box. But He wasn’t moved. It was a poor widow who provided a teaching moment for the rich. Jesus states that the rich folks gave out of their abundance, but she gave all that she had. So it’s not really the amount you give that matters, but the heart behind your giving. Oh yeah, and there’s that whole giving in secret thing Jesus talked about.
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:2–4)
I ran into some other torn Christians yesterday in my Timeline on Facebook. They weren’t so sure what to make of what happened in the video. One comment characterized this group:
The Bible tells us not to touch God’s anointed but it also says to try the spirit by the spirit. What gives?
Well, the infamous “touch not” passage has been used by ministries for decades to allow leaders to deflect accountability. And it challenges us not to question the actions of leaders in the church. But is that what the passage really is talking about? Or has the passage been appropriated by those who attempt to instill fear in members of the church? Because the idea is that if you talk about a man or woman of God, then God will get you. Because He’s just waiting to strike down people who talk about pastors and preachers.
But you have to wonder of people have really read the passage from Psalms that talks about not touching God’s anointed. David (the author) was actually talking about his experience with Saul (a king and not a pastor or leader in the church). And he was talking about the physical harm he had a chance to inflict on Saul when he had him in a vulnerable position. The idea that we aren’t to speak up against men and women of God who are anointed isn’t Scriptural. In fact, Paul “touched God’s anointed” in Peter when he openly rebuked him for hypocritical behavior.
Look, I truly pray the experience at Potter’s House was authentic, but there were a few things there that should at least give us the opportunity to, like the Bereans, search the Scriptures and see if what was said/done there were true. At the very least, I pray that this has caused us all to consider the unassuming act of that widow in Luke’s Gospel. It reminds us all that prosperity isn’t something to aspire to or something to be grasped. Jesus truly is enough. You might not ever stand on anyone’s stage and give $1 million dollars. But that’s okay. Sometimes, all it takes is the clink of two coins to get Jesus’ attention.