The Prosperity (not) Gospel
First of all, please click here to learn more about our documentary/fundraiser this year! We will have events in Jacksonville, LaGrange, and virtually so there are multiple ways for you to participate and to see how the kids are doing.
This week's theology post is not happening on Thursday for a variety of reasons, but it is happening. I hope everyone had a great Easter and that you were able to spend the day worshipping and praising Jesus for dying on the Cross and being raised in victory over death!
It was during my study of the Word of GOD during Holy Week that something struck me for the first time, and I thought it was interesting. I know this is not really the prosperity gospel, but in a sense it gets to the heart of the prosperity (not) gospel. Listen to these verses in Luke 23:
"The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him. They said, 'He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of GOD, the Chosen One.'"
"They offered Him wine vinegar and said, 'If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself."
As you know, the foundational belief of what has become known as prosperity gospel is that GOD loves you so He is going to bless you and make you prosperous. This comes from different verses in both the Old and New Testament, but is more of a general teaching than anything based on specific Bible passages.
There is a big problem with the prosperity gospel (there are many but I digress) that makes it untenable for followers of Christ. The problem...It is not true.
Is it true that GOD loves you? Yes. Is it true that He wants to bless you? Absolutely 100% yes. Is it true that He wants you to be rich and comfortable and financially set for the rest of your life? Not necessarily and more than likely "no". Even a cursory glance at the teachings of Jesus shows you a man without a home, without many of the physical comforts that wealthier people enjoyed, and a man who was absolutely content in His circumstances.
It is funny, when Jesus was being beaten and hung on the Cross, it made absolutely no sense at all, even to His followers. If He really was the Christ of GOD, GOD in the flesh, then why on earth was this happening? If He had the power to make it not happen, then the only logical move on His part was to make it stop...Right?
That is the problem with the Gospel for a whole lot of people...It does not make sense. It is easy to understand, but hard to grasp. If the Gospel was not spelled out throughout the pages of the Bible, there is no way it would make sense to us either. For instance:
- Why, since GOD knows everything I have ever thought, said, or done does He love me?
- If GOD was perfectly content in fellowship with Himself and does not need us for anything...Why are we here?
- If GOD loves us, then why do bad things happen?
- If GOD wants to bless us, then why I am I poor, addicted, lonely, or whatever else you are from time to time?
So what happens is that people try to make the Gospel make sense to "us" and all types of false teachings result. They say things like, "GOD will give you anything you could ever want as long as you ask" or "Name it and claim it" or any other type of false teaching that makes the Gospel easier for finite minds to grasp.
But there is only one truth. It is a truth that we will not fully grasp this side of being face-to-face with Christ, but it is a truth that guides everything about who we are.
Prosperity teachings tell us that we can get whatever we want as long as we ask GOD for it. It reduces GOD to little more than a genie in a bottle who is there to grant our wish. Do you want money? Just ask. Fame? Just ask? A scholarship to college? Just ask.
This type of teaching is in all of our hearts, and to an extent it should be. GOD is our Heavenly Father and as such He absolutely wants to bless us. The problem is that what we see as "blessings" are not always good.
So when the soldiers and leaders and other people in the crowd looked at Jesus, they thought..."There is no way He is truly GOD. If He was, He would remove Himself from that torture device."
The reality of the situation was..."As GOD, the only choice He had was to bring glory to His Father by being obedient to death."