Matthew 24:3-5

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.

Let me tell you about a few people today. One of them is Father Divine. He was an African American spiritual leader from about 1907 until he died in 1965. He used to call himself the Reverend Major Jealous Divine. He was also known as "the Messenger." He founded the International Peace Mission movement, formulated its doctrine, and oversaw its growth from a small and predominantly black congregation into a multiracial and international church. Father Divine claimed to be God.

Then we have the Korean-born Sun Myung Moon. In 1954, he formally founded the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity in Seoul. He quickly drew young acolytes who helped to build the foundations of church-affiliated business and cultural organizations. But although he preached a conservative, family-oriented value system, he had his interpretation of the Bible. And he declared himself a Messiah.

Then there is David Koresh, an American who was a member, and later a leader, of the Branch Davidians. This group splintered off from the Davidian Seventh-day Adventist Church. He competed for dominance with another leader named George Roden until Roden was jailed for murdering another rival. Koresh then claimed to be the group's final prophet.

Every generation seems to have somebody who claims to be a prophet, messiah, or God. I am not surprised. Every generation also has people who think they are Napoleon, Caesar, or Gandhi. They end up where they belong in a psych ward. What surprises me is: 1) why these people aren't in a mental hospital; and 2) how they manage to find people to buy into their madness. What is wrong with people?

Let us not be so stupid, ya? Jesus says that in the last days (that's now), there will be more of these loonies coming out of the woodwork, saying all kinds of things to get you to follow them, but we shouldn't be duped. When Jesus returns, he will make it very clear this time so that nobody is fooled.

So, let's pray for his coming. And let us be at peace until he does, ensuring that we are as close to him as possible.

May the Spirit be with you.

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