The Emperor’s New Clothes


Painting of Andersen, 1836, by Christian Albre...

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We’re all familiar with Hans Christian Andersen’s legendary tale The Emperor’s New Clothes. It’s the story of the vain and self-absorbed ruler who spends all his time and treasure on looking good. Two con-men decide to take advantage of the Emperor’s vanity by convincing him that they can make him a fabulous new suit out of cloth so fine and light that anyone who was unfit for their office or uncommonly stupid would be unable to even see it. The two scoundrels spend hours locked away in a room supposedly sewing the new suit. The curious Emperor sends underlings to check on the progress. The two ‘tailors’  show the new clothes being worked on to the underlings, none of whom want to be called incompetent or uncommonly stupid. All agree that the completed suit is marvelous to look at. Finally the completed new suit is delivered to  the emperor, who puts it on and goes for a stroll so that all of his subjects can admire his glorious new suit. The Emperor’s subjects  realize that it would definitely be politically incorrect to admit being unable to see the new suit so everyone expresses their admiration of the Emperor and his new clothes. Everyone of course except for one little child who exclaimed, “The Emperor’s naked!”.  Everyone else then started shouting out “He’s naked! He’s naked!”. The Emperor finally comprehended that he had been hoodwinked, but he was so full of pride that he could not admit the truth and continued on with the procession.

Many leaders in the American church today are like this vain and foolish emperor in H.C. Andersen’s story. They rule over their congregants with an iron fist, demanding unquestioning loyalty and obedience. They are overly impressed with themselves and the pursuit of their own fame, wealth, and glory. They make wild extravagant claims about themselves and their ‘anointing’. They are experts at whipping the emotions of their hearers into a frenzy. They promise miracles of every kind but very few ever actually occur. “Do you need a miracle in your life?” they scream. “Then just come up to the altar and let Jesus heal your job, your marriage, and your crappy personality!” They’ll pull bible verses out of context and teach their followers that if they repeat the verses often enough – like some pagan incantation – and believe hard enough, then God will fulfill every selfish desire they’ve ever had. Provided of course enough money is ‘sowed into the ministry’. The amazing thing is that when God doesn’t give them what they want, the people hear: “You didn’t have enough faith.” or “You didn’t confess the Word enough.”  or “You didn’t sow enough money ….  to get your ‘miracle”. Do you notice the onus for failure is always on the people, never the preacher or the falsehood of the message he preaches.   The cycle repeats leaving a trail of broken and disheartened people.

Everyone in their circle of influence goes along with what the church emperor says. No one wants to admit that there is no substance or truth to the message and face being labeled spiritually incompetent or uncommonly stupid. But in reality even a little child can see the foolishness and deception being practiced. Indeed anyone who is willing to compare what the bible says versus what the religious emperor says will – like the little child in the story – proclaim “He’s naked! He’s naked!”

In Matthew 18:2,3,4 (ESV) And calling to him (Jesus) a child, he put him in the midst of them 3and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

So do not be taken in by a lot of slick talking. Check what you hear with what God says in the bible. Don’t be fooled into trying to make the bible say what you want it to say. Remember the apostle Paul’s word to the Corinthians – For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. 1 Corinthians 4:20 (NLT) and 1 Corinthians 2:3 I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. 4And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. 5I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. 

You see, by the power of  the Holy Spirit a real man of God speaks little but accomplishes much. A false man of God speaks much but accomplishes little.

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About Dave Harman
I was found by Jesus April 9, 1975. I married the love of my life Helen, August 19, 1978. We have one daughter, Elizabeth, whose husband and two children live nearby. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in January 1997. In January 2004, Jesus Christ healed me and I have been symptom free ever since.

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