Distinguishing a genuine pastor from a fake

The business of evaluating to effectively pinpoint deceptive pastors is not as accessible as most people assume. Being genuine does not necessarily mean what one agrees with. Pastors are as many as anyone can call themselves a pastor and attract followers. Neither does this mean those preaching differently should be labelled as not genuine. The term “pastor” is most important, yet also mostly abused in the entire spectrum of Christianity.

The term is derived from Greek, denoting shepherding, whose problem can be experienced twofold: 1) Assuming that being a pastor makes one superior to others. 2) Not knowing that Jesus is the only shepherd, entrusted with pastoral care. Assuming that being pastor is a promotion is as ridiculous as assuming being superior to God, who created every other person in His own image. This deception is as rampant as evil is rampant.

Humans are generally not treated equally, although created in God’s image. Worldly standards require honouring some while degrading others. One can be granted respect for being charismatic; or according to his portly appearance. Educational status is, by far, the most respected. In Africa, whites are generally considered highly. People are, ordinarily unaware of this malady being spiritual and deadly. All this portrays ignorance in that all humans were created in God’s image.

Jesus, Himself, was never respected, as His crucifixion testifies to that reality. In their wisdom or lack of wisdom, most humans assume being better than those who crucified Jesus. Currently, Jesus’ name is idolized, while His true servants are treated badly. Paul surmised not being as eloquent as Apollos, for instance. He lamented this condition, manifesting among Corinthian believers (1 Corinthians 1:10-31). Paul’s assertion reveals that true Christians are not necessarily respected:

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that the world, by its wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not; to bring to naught things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1: 18-31 KJV).

This does not mean one cannot benefit from charismatic preachers or Scholars. The point is whether the preacher quotes Jesus or not. Jesus castigated the Pharisees and teachers of the law but instructed His disciples to heed while shunning their deeds (Matthew 23:2-7). During His time, Jesus was unknown to many people. He is alive, but unknown by those assuming Jesus is glamorous.

Knowing the truth is codified in Jesus, the only trusted Savior of all time. Unfortunately, these words are also commonly stated by those in sheep’s clothing, yet being ferocious wolves. In their idolatrous behaviour, most people claim to honour Jesus, when respecting such pastors, more than Jesus. Such devotees vehemently deny this, even though true. This generates reasons for being hated—nothing else.

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:10-15 KJV).

Matthew wrote similarly of this reality. Jesus advised His disciples to treat each other equally. Hence, in this life, it is important to prepare oneself for death, when following Jesus. This is what validates faith in Jesus, the symbol of eternity. His words need no alteration, by fallible humans.

“But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12 KJV).

The above Scripture is a source of confusion to most believers. However, in Christ there is no confusion. Only the charlatans attempt to correct Jesus, pretending to promote orderliness, on His behalf. Of essence is distinguishing genuine pastors from deceivers. The most painful thing is observing sincere believers unknowingly remaining stuck in deception. It seems such stubbornness portrays cowardice, more than sheer rebellion.

Why humans underestimate deception, is beyond ordinary humans’ comprehension. How then, can believers attain salvation? The answer is in Paul’s words: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 21 KJV). Evaluating information appears easy, but extremely impossible when predisposed to idolatry. Nevertheless, good pastors avoid being idolized, when quoting Jesus, at all times.

Authentic pastors avoid proffering their own opinions, to their followers. For instance, if a questioner desires to know whether paying tithe is Godly mandated authentic pastors return the such question to questioners: “What does Christ say?” The answer is in Jesus’ words, leaving the questioner to sincerely search the Scriptures.

In other words, authentic pastors allow Jesus to speak through the Bible. Christ is the only authentic pastor. Anyone else, regardless of how famous, is a fake, according to John 10:11. The fake pastors state that Christ speaks through them, spiritually, yet avoid the Biblical Jesus. What most people misunderstand is that Satan is also capable of performing miracles. The stable datum is that no human was ever created stupid.

Assuming that God created stupid people; is not different from assuming that God is stupid. Nevertheless, all humans were reduced to stupidity, through Adam. Otherwise, the stupidity term wouldn’t exist. How then can one created in God’s image come out of stupidity? The answer is as important as distinguishing life from death. Stupidity is imposed by the devil, rather than a result of God’s creation.

The fallacy has always been associating ignorance with stupidity. Many people aim to pretend to know what they do not know. One can be as ignorant as being unable to write his own name. However, his inability to write is not a sign of stupidity. Ignorance does not denote stupidity but pretending to know what is unknown. This datum covers all subjects. If pretending to know how to drive, and yet has not driven before, one risks being in road accident statistics. This is what describes stupidity.

Wisdom lies in the ability to separate knowledge from ignorance. There is no middle ground. Foolishness lies between knowledge and ignorance, suggesting carelessness, just as accidents are caused by carelessness. Knowledgeable people are not pretenders. They avoid speaking from assumptions. Such people can be tested by Jesus’ words.

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3: 14-18 KJV).

Stupidity cuts across humanity, regardless of race, status or background. Apparently, other people are wiser than others. But what appears to be; does not always portray the truth. That portrays the only reason Jesus could not be accepted in His home town. The greatest strength lies in understanding that all humans are entangled in sinfulness, regardless of background. No one is wiser, as other people’s stupidity manifests one’s own stupidity.

Regardless of how honourable and famous, as long as not quoting Jesus, such pastors ought to be avoided like Covid 19. Deception carries the veneer of goodness. This is how the trap of Satan manifests. Jesus was never attractive and His servants cannot be attractive. This is an unavoidable truth, understood only by those with truthful dispositions. It is only God’s enemies who downgrade those quoting Jesus:

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:13-15 KJV).

Authentic pastors do not assume, without quoting Jesus. Everything they say is scripturally backed so that it would be Christ speaking, rather than them. The questioner might have answers, not yet understood by the pastor. Authentic pastors would not hesitate to adopt new understanding, as long as attributed to Jesus. This is what humility entails. No one is certain of who Jesus uses at any given time, except appreciating those quoting what Jesus taught.

When asked: “What does Jesus say?” Without a pastor’s opinion, the questioner is challenged to sincerely communicate with Jesus. Human pastors represent Jesus’ voice. If Jesus is the only teacher, where does the claim to be a teacher come from? This emphasizes 1) Ignorance, due to unwillingness to confront the truth, as recorded in the Bible. 2) Coming from those manipulating ignorant people.

Most people are abused, due to unwillingness to confront the truth. Only the untruthful take comfort in falsehoods. Generally, we live in a world where people avoid responsibility. Rather than take responsibility, parents leave everything to school authorities, without even evaluating the background of such school authorities.

Ordinary citizens submit to abusive politicians. Clear idolatry is manifested across the world, assuming that others know better, without quoting Scriptural references. Indeed, authority is necessary, in every area of living. Cooperating with those in authority is standard.

Even a cleaner in public toilets needs cooperation, similarly to how a corporate manager needs cooperation. This world is governed under dichotomous authorities, represented in order and confusion. Jesus has simplified the evaluation of information to avoid confusion.

The role of pastors is significant; as carrying humanity’s hope, when used by Jesus. The role of Jesus was not intended for attracting worshippers. Pastors may not necessarily always have to die like Jesus, but submit to Christ’s leadership. They do everything on behalf of Jesus.

“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2: 4-8 KJV).

All problems are a product of false Christianity. Politicians cannot be expected to have an impact without Christian involvement. This should not be regarded as easy. But if it was, there would have been no reason for pursuing Christianity and Jesus dying on the cross.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression,  into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com  for $6.99