Wrapping up this series on MLM in the church, I’d like to share some of the thoughts from the last section of my book, which I’ll reiterate was written over 20 years ago.
I am frequently asked, “Can you be a Christian and still be in MLM?” I would have to say, many Christians are. But my personal observation is, I have rarely seen anyone in MLM who has been able to sustain a vibrant, totally dependent, flourishing relationship with God. I feel this is because of three things. First, because of the promotional hype at the core of multi-level that causes covetousness. Second, because the system fosters discontent. Third, because of the manipulation involved which causes blind following, rather than hearing God’s voice and doing His will. With network marketing organizations built on worldly desires and entrenched with manipulation and greed, it would be hard to jump in the water without getting wet.
In Experiencing God, Blackaby and King compare and contrast God-centered living with self-centered living. They say,
God-centered living is characterized by
- Confidence in God
- Dependence on God and His ability and provision
- Life focused on God and His activity
- Humbleness before God
- Denying self
- Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
- Seeking God’s perspective in every circumstance
- Holy and godly living1
In contrast to God-centered living, self-centered living is characterized by
- Life focused on self
- Pride in self and self’s accomplishments
- Self confidence
- Depending on self and self’s own abilities
- Affirming self
- Seeking to be acceptable to the world and its ways
- Looking at circumstances from a human perspective
- Selfish and ordinary living2
It is my opinion that MLM encourages self-centered, not God-centered living.
I believe the crux of the problem with most network marketing sales organizations is that, in order to build your business, you must exploit your contacts with friends, family and acquaintances. It’s not selling something and making a profit that’s wrong. But when you have to recruit everyone you know, using relationships for personal gain to be successful, it’s almost impossible to keep pure heart motives.
I’ll close this series by making one last point on this topic. Since Satan is the enemy of our souls and will stop at nothing to deceive, destroy, distract, and detour us, consider this:
Satan never reveals the results of sin. The sin of adultery can look alluring on television dramas. You never see the destruction that it causes, the pain inflicted on the spouse, the devastation of the divorce, the heartbroken children. The enemy just lets you see the glitter. It appeals to your senses and leads you down the road of spiritual death.
The same thing can happen in multi-level marketing. The enemy doesn’t show you the divorces, bankruptcies, adultery, infatuation with materialism, misuse of power and prestige, estranged children, destroyed friendships, and defeated Christians. He only shows you the big houses, the fancy cars, the comradery, the smiles, the vacations in Hawaii — the glitter.
The enemy will tempt you with the glitter when you’re vulnerable. Remember when he tempted Jesus? He had been fasting for 40 days and His body was weak! That’s when the enemy showed Him all that he would give Him if Jesus would just bow down and worship him. We must be aware of how the enemy tries the same thing in our lives.
Just think back to all the times you have been offered a “get rich quick” opportunity or some other possibility that appeals to the lust of the eyes or flesh. If you analyze it, you will probably see that you were at a vulnerable time in your life. Maybe you were out of money, or had just heard about layoffs coming. Whenever we are feeling a bit insecure about the future and fear sets in, watch out! Satan will be right there to tempt you!
I pray that this series has served as an equipping of sorts, providing insight and red flags to watch for in your own life and church.
1 Blackaby, King, Experiencing God, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1994) pages 63, 64
2 Blackaby, King, Experiencing God, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1994) page 64