Many people today, even in church lobbies, are selling high-priced nutritional supplements through network marketing schemes.
Remember the Bible story of Naaman (I Kings 5)? He was an important man in the Syrian army, and he had leprosy. Every Syrian treatment had failed, including all the alternative methods. But then a little slave girl suggested the prophet of God who lived in Israel, an enemy country. Naaman's king gave him permission to visit this healer, and sent along fabulous gifts.
Naaman first visited Israel's king, without any success. When he finally found the prophet, he didn't get the fancy welcome he expected. Instead, Gehazi (the prophet's servant) told Naaman to go and bathe in the Jordan River 7 times. Insulted and angry, Naaman headed home. Then his servants convinced him to give the prescribed treatment a chance. And his obedience brought a miraculous healing.
If the prophet had offered Naaman an elixir for healing (the equivalent of today's pills or capsules), he would have eagerly offered all his wealthy gifts in payment. But instead of buying healing, God wanted Naaman to show a little faith and obedience to His instructions. "...it was only through following the specific directions of the prophet that he could find healing. Willing obedience alone would bring the desired result." (Prophets & Kings, 249)
But God's faithful prophet had a greedy servant. He saw a chance to exploit the sick in exchange for wealth. He could not stand to see all Naaman's money go back to Syria! So he found a way to trick the prophet while convincing Naaman to leave some of his riches behind.
People who exploit others' fear of illness or desire for health by selling overpriced and unnecessary supplements are often acting similar to Gehazi. Often, the urgent push to buy supplements is based on a mixture of truth, pseudoscience, myth and misrepresentation. But people's fear makes them willing to buy, providing a good living for the sellers. And instead of teaching people how to live more wholistically healthy lives, the sellers merely reap a financial benefit.
(This article is the first in a short series on this topic. View: <Previous Next>)