I have a friend who recently had her email account hacked. I got one of those I’m-stuck-in-another-country-and-need-you-to-wire-me-money-to-get-home emails. The hacker was good – the email addressed me by name and showed her account in the “from” box – but I immediately knew it was a hoax for two reasons. One, I have received this email before from people supposedly stuck in England, China, Africa, and other places. Two, I knew it was a hoax because I had talked to my friend earlier that week and she mentioned nothing about being out of the country. Rather she had just returned home from a trip in the United States.
When you know the purported author well and have an ongoing relationship with him or her, it is not hard to spot the hoax. If, on the other hand, you have been out of touch for some time, you might get sucked in and give a large chunk of money to someone far, far away.
Maybe that is why people are so skeptical of the church, and by extension God. They have received the God-will-make-you-rich sermon that turned out to be a hoax; or they bought into the Jesus-will-take-away-all-your-problems-and-make-you-happy hoax; or they tried the if-you-pray-hard-enough-that-illness-will-definitely-go-away hoax; or one of several others I’m sure you can name. If you don’t have a good relationship with the one from whom the message claims to be, it can be easy to be taken in by the whole thing.
So I recommend seeking to know God well, checking in often, and being wary of claims that are too good to be true. That’s the best way to be aware when you might be hearing from a hacker rather than the One who longs to be in relationship with you.