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Preachers and Bodyguards

"Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians…When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment…And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My clothes?" But His disciples said to Him, "You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’" Mark 5:25-27; 30-31

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wondered why preachers, like drug barons, have bodyguards. Not only do some preachers travel with armed bodyguards, but some even have these bodyguards on the pulpit or around the pulpit, in church! This begs the question, "Why does a preacher need bodyguards in church, and even so on the platform or around the pulpit?"

Recently, I accidentally came upon an article on a website that featured an interview with Bishop Noel Jones, Pastor of City of Refuge in Los Angeles, California. A particular paragraph in the article caught my attention. About Bishop Jones, the writer wrote:

"Many actors, actresses, singers, and other celebrities attend his church. He himself travels with armed bodyguards. On a typical Sunday morning there are several bodyguards present, two of whom are present on the church platform. The others are often discreetly positioned in the church building."

In the context of the article, the writer was impressed by the fact that celebrities attend Bishop Jones’ church. But even more so, he was impressed by the fact that Bishop Jones has armed bodyguards! As if God gives special awards to the preacher with the most celebrities in attendance, or the most armed bodyguards.

Now, I don’t know if the writer is a Christian or not. But the fact that he thinks that a preacher having armed bodyguards is impressive speaks of his spiritual maturity, more so his knowledge (or lack thereof) of the Bible or the life of Jesus and the Early Disciples. But the writer is not the issue here. The issue here is the idea of preachers having bodyguards.

Why does a preacher need an armed bodyguard? Is it because of a preacher’s hard-hitting, unpopular and controversial sermons? Is it because of a preacher’s hostile environment? Or is it just because of a preacher’s ego, and his/her obsession for the things of the world and to look like the world?

When you think about it, most preachers with armed bodyguards don’t fall in the category of those preachers with hard-hitting, unpopular, controversial sermons. Many of their sermons are anything but controversial or unpopular. Matter of fact, many of these preachers preach to the gallery, i.e.; they preach what the people want to hear: prosperity, healing, self-empowerment, etc. So, why would a people-pleasing preacher have armed bodyguards?

I may somewhat be sympathetic toward a hard-hitting, unpopular and controversial preacher, living in a hostile environment, having bodyguards. Say a preacher in Iraq or Saudi Arabia or some other countries that are hostile to Christianity. But not preachers who preach what the people want to hear, and living in the freest country in the world – America.

Speaking of hard-hitting, unpopular and controversial preachers, no one was hard-hitting, unpopular or controversial as Jesus Christ and the Early Disciples, yet none of them had bodyguards. In fact these men were so controversial and unpopular that they were killed for their unpopular teachings.

If anybody needed bodyguards, I think it would have been Jesus and some of the Early Disciples; because of their unpopular teachings and because they preached in hostile environments. Yet they didn’t. In fact, when Peter tried to act like Jesus’ bodyguard when He was arrested before His crucifixion, Jesus rebuked him for cutting off the ear of one of the men that came to arrest Him, and placed back the man’s ear.

So, why then do some preachers really have bodyguards? If you ask me, I’ll say it’s because of their obsession to look and act like the world. Celebrities in the world have bodyguards, so why not these preachers who consider themselves as celebrities? They figured if having bodyguards portrays their celebrity status, then they might as well have them.

For many of these preachers, having bodyguards is more or less an ego thing than it is for protection. And if it is for protection, it’s definitely not because of their unpopular, rightly-divided sermons. At best, it is protection for their worldly goods – their expensive jewelries, designer suits, mansions, etc.

If it is for protection, I don’t think a preacher would need bodyguards standing around him in church like the President of United States at a State of the Union address. Protection from who? An embittered member? A psycho? Come on now! I think this whole bodyguard craze is more an ego thing than it is for protection.

In fact, some of these preachers are so big-headed and distant from the people that you can’t touch them with the proverbial ten-foot pole. And if these preachers were Jesus, the woman with the issue of blood would have died in her sickness, because she couldn’t get near them to touch the hem of their garment (Mark 5:25-34). Or if a person’s healing was dependent on touching these preachers, that person had better start making funeral arrangements.

But not so with Jesus. In fact, Jesus was so close to the people that they were able to touch the hem of His garment. So close that He didn’t know who touched Him, because the crowd pressed against Him. You can’t press against someone with a bodyguard!

And when the disciples at another time wanted to play bodyguard for Jesus by stopping children from coming to Him, Jesus rebuked them, saying, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God." Luke 18:16

Now, as prominent as some of these preachers think that they are or want people to believe they are, none of them is as prominent as Billy Graham. Not even close! Yet, I’d never seen Billy Graham with bodyguards. Not even when he preached in open arenas, where he could be an easy target for an assassin’s bullet. Who knows, maybe he had some security details when he traveled, (which I doubt) but I’d never seen any around him or around the podium when he was preaching. This is one of the reasons why I’m hard to convince that these preachers with bodyguards are not ego-tripping.

I believe that the reason Jesus and the Early Disciples (even Billy Graham?) didn’t have bodyguards is because they made themselves no reputation. They lived to do the will of the Father alone. And if they had to die for the gospel sake, so be it. That was why they were not afraid to die doing the will of the Father.

Not so with some of these preachers, today. These preachers live for themselves. Therefore, they are afraid to die for Christ’s sake. And when you live for yourself, you are afraid to die. If not they wouldn’t have so many armed bodyguards around them.

One thing I find interesting about us, Christians, is how much we talk about heaven; how beautiful it is, how we look forward to going, etc., yet most of us are not willing to go now, if offered! Why? Because we love the world and the things of the world more than we love heaven or the Father. But that’s another topic for another day. But I digress…

Getting back to the subject…Here is my take…as far as I’m concerned; this whole idea of preachers having bodyguards proves one thing -- a preacher’s selfishness. So, show me a preacher with bodyguards, and I’ll show you a self-serving preacher, pushing his own agenda, and not Christ’s.

By the way, who pays for the bodyguards? Are they paid out of the preacher’s pocket or your tithes and offerings? I’d be interested to know.

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