CAMPBELLTON, New Brunswick, May 20, 2023 – One characteristic that nearly all YouTube prophets have in common is that they’re slick.

They pique your interest with a catchy video title and then draw you into a spiel that usually opens and/or closes with a plea to subscribe to their channel. What they say in between the opening and closing frames is essentially filler for the plea to subscribe. They want your attention just long enough to get your contact info, which they will then either sell to a third party or use later to hit you up for donations.

I suspected already a few years ago that nearly all the most popular Christian video channels on YouTube had auto-generated content. I now suspect that even the videos that are hosted by people are using an AI-generated script. This is the easiest way around not knowing scripture or even being a Christian – just plug a theme and other specs into an AI, and it will generate the content for you. Heck, you don’t even need a human (let alone a believer) to deliver the AI-generated content anymore. You can just use an automated voice feature synched to a computer-generated “person”.

It’s difficult not to be disgusted by how cheaply God’s Word is held by those who only see it as an easy way to feed their ego or bilk people. To avoid getting angry about this, I remind myself that God can use anything to his benefit, including AI-generated text read by computer-generated images on YouTube. If it didn’t have some capacity (however indirect) to benefit his Kingdom, God wouldn’t permit it to exist. So even slick YouTube prophet channels have their place in God’s grand plan.

Contrast these flashy presentations with those of genuine prophets, like Paul. By his own admission, he was awkward, stammered, and wasn’t much to look at. His letters were powerful, but his physical presence was unimpressive. The devil’s agents, on the other hand, are almost always charming, charismatic, persuasive, and good-looking. They draw you in with their slick words, like snake-oil salesmen have been doing since the beginning of time. Knowing that what they’re telling you is a lie or at best half-truths, they compensate with a shiny and seductive surface.

It’s hard not to be tantalized by the superficially attractive because God made us to be attracted to beauty. Slickness has all the appearance of beauty, but without the substance. Spend too much time on this or that YouTube channel watching this or that false prophet, and you start to feel like you’ve eaten way too much dollar store candy.

Jesus is our gold standard in everything we do, including how we share God’s Word. No-one could ever accuse him of being slick, but he wasn’t awkward or clumsy, either. He was the full package, the real deal – confident but not boastful, authoritative but not demanding, engaging but not cloying. He simply relayed what God asked him to relay, and those who had ears to hear heard.

I understand that some people feel the need to do whatever they need to do for clicks and subscribers, but that’s not how God wants us to relay his Word. We’re not midway barkers at a county fair, shouting ourselves hoarse at passersby and trying to hustle customers over to our target-shooting booth. We’re God’s messengers and prophets. Not everyone listened to Jesus, and not everyone’s going to listen to us, no matter what kind of gimmick we might feel compelled to use to catch their attention.

Here’s a thought – instead of trying to catch people’s attention, let God bring people to you. Let God bring whoever needs to hear what he’s relaying through you. When Jesus walked from village to village, he didn’t look for people to heal; he healed those who came to him or were brought to him. God was his agent. We need to understand that the same dynamic is at play today, that God still uses his messengers and prophets in the same way as he used Jesus, and that God is our agent, too.

We’re to make ourselves visible and available as we preach and teach the Word, but we’re not to be slick or push ourselves on anyone. Jesus never pushed himself on anyone or resorted to hype. He simply relayed what God asked him to relay and healed everyone who came to him for healing.

The rest he let be.

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