In many Christian circles there is controversy over the use (or even the existence) of many spiritual gifts. But almost everyone agrees that one gift has been overlooked for too long, and fortunately it is making a comeback with a vengeance, and that gift is sparketin.
Sparketin is the holy marketing of ministries, celebrity pastors, mega-churches, and Christian personalities who celebrate their fame and invite you to invest in their institutions. It’s a purified self-promotion steeped in this-world spirituality; a heavenly sales tool inspired by the first line of a 1960’s song: It only takes a spark to get a fire going….
Sparketin is the enlightened blend of capitalism and Christianity: spirituality for profit.
The Gift Has a Long, Distinguished History
The first recorded expression of sparketin failed when its early adopters missed the principle of “other-centeredness.” It took place in the pre-Babylonian days when the people who built the Tower of Babel exclaim, “Come let us make a name for ourselves.”
Modern practitioners know that its truest expression is found in a spiritual Ponzi scheme, by promising followers that if they donate more, their own lives (and health and happiness) will also blossom. The key mistake the early adopters made was to invest in their own reputation when they should have “looked to others” to do it for them.
King Saul was also a failed early adopter. Unsatisfied with being a mere ruler, he wanted an empire, so he captured the King of the Amalekites and built a monument to his own honor.
His mistake was to believe he needed anything of substance, like a monument. One Christian leader (whose specialty is leadership-training) publicly promises a method of gaining 5,000 followers with his simple plan, “even if you don’t have a product or idea yet.” True sparketing has faith in yourself, and it is hope in hype rather than any content or substance.
The Pharisees frankly were the movement’s high-water mark. They knew more about self-promotion than Donald Trump. They turned sparketin into an Olympic event, transforming mere prayer into a festival of self-promotion, tithing into public self-praise, and even the confusing gift of tongues into a cacophony of crashing gongs and clashing cymbals.
The Slow Death of Sparketin
Its downfall began with John the Baptist. At the height of his fame, when he had more followers than Kim Kardashian, John the Baptist drowns the holy gift of sparketin in the Jordan. He meets Jesus and publicly declares, “He must increase and I must decrease.”
Just imagine the impact John could have had if he had asked Herod to join him in a selfie. Instagram would have loved it, and it would have set John a-head of the competition.
Despite all the good things Jesus did, we must blame him for the two-thousand-year demise of sparketin. I doubt any person in all of human history abandoned that gift so shamelessly. His list of failures is too big to catalogue, but here are some examples:
- He begins his famous sermon with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Anyone with even an ounce of holy marketing would have said, “Blessed are rich in self-esteem.”
- He tells the rich young man to sell his possessions and give to the poor. Jesus failed Sparketin 101 when he forgot to ask for at least a tithe of those proceeds.
- Jesus does well when he partners with a synagogue leader to save his daughter from death, and then he fails when he is distracted by a no-name woman with a chronic problem. The motto of sparketers is: “Love everyone, but move with the movers!”
- His most egregious neglect of holy-movement-marketing was his death on a cross. Superstar sparketers praise their followers as smart, good-looking heroes, but the cross claims the followers of Jesus are so needy that their only cure is the death of the perfect son of God. What was Jesus thinking? Never alienate your followers!
Fortunately that two-thousand-year drought is over. We are once again showered with leaders who praise themselves, pastors who promote their institutions, bloggers who happily charge you a king’s ransom to be “one of their tribe,” and authors who ignore Christ’s call to pick up our crosses when they instead promise us our best life now.
Most of all, sparketers love the gift of “giving” with its corresponding fruit of “getting.” Isn’t spiritual progress great?
P. S. Now this is awkward. I am hesitant to even mention my book, Hearing God in Conversation, because I think (at least I hope) that I lack any partaking of the spiritual gift discussed above.
I cannot tell you it will increase your health, wealth, or Instagram followers. I can only promise I put everything I learned about hearing God into this book. I really hope it helps you grow in intimacy with God as you learn to recognize his voice
You can listen to this short video below and see if Hearing God in Conversation interests you.
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