There is a simple but common misconception among 21st Century persons who claim Jesus as their Lord & Savior. A way of thinking that has festered among our fellowship of believers. We find ourselves in a day where many modern Christians qualify their faith in God by the quantity of what they receive from their God. For some, God is only as good as what they get from God and if they aren’t getting, then God isn’t good. There are those of our sisters and brothers who have allowed this commodified culture to have detrimental effect their understanding of the Most High and their interpretation of His activity in their lives.
This epidemic is not exclusive to the pews. It has far reaching influence that stretches past the pews of our churches and ascends up into pulpits all over this nation. As much as it troubles me to type it, this malignant mindset has even made its way into the mentality of those sisters and brothers who are charged with proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is known as Prosperity Gospel; the trend where those who believe in God concurrently believe that they are to get every material possession they desire from God. It softly suggests that the goodness of God is directly connected to what we can grab from God. This warped form of ministry places heightened value on belongings and diminishes the value of what it truly means to be blessed. So often, instead of the Lord blessing us with what we believe we need, God allows His favor, grace, and mercy to bring us through our struggles without that which we thought we needed. The flaw of Prosperity Gospel (and the Prosperity Preaching that comes from it, for that matter) is that it propositions that the Lord’s provisions are limited to the what one can count, spend or even touch. Prosperity theology mispositions the Christian in such an injurious way that they are unable to see or grasp the blessings God intends to deposit into their lives.
These impaired inclinations toward ministry are made visible in a lot of what is seen on television today. One doesn’t have to travel far down their channel guide to find a clergyman or clergywoman suggesting that God has some high end item in store for them and that for a small, nominal fee, this blessing will be theirs. Through these practices, our Heavenly Father ends up being reduced to some ecclesiastical accountant balancing a budget before bestowing blessing upon those whom He loves.
To misrepresent and minimize the nature of the Divine (especially in an age where people are seeking to understand what it means to follow God) is deeply problematic. When relationship with Christ becomes reduced to the same relationship we have with an ATM machine, things have gone deeply awry.
The beauty of our belief in Jesus is most tangible in the fulfillment we receive from it. And though difficult at times to embrace, the reality of that fulfillment is not the result of what we get from God, but instead what we have in God. There is a peace, a joy, and a contentment that comes with having The Lord in your life; a Spiritual sense of care and comfort that transcends anything that may come from material possession. The danger of prosperity gospel is that it compromises the opportunity for the peace of the Lord to work in our lives. Prosperity gospel is a contradiction among itself as it presents the Spirit of God insufficient while holding up a Bible that repeatedly instructs us that His Spirit is all we need.
As Christians, we ought to fight against this dogma by offering our Christ-centereed interpretations of the Gospel as a countercultural alternative to the false doctrine so prevalent in our time. The way that we discredit this demonic doctrine is by not allowing ourselves to be seduced by its fruit. Ours is not a walk of property and popularity, but one of obsequiousness and service. Like any good parent, God loves us too much to give us everything we want or ask for.
We need more prophets not concerned with profits who are willing to share God’s true message of love and salvation. The church is in danger of being viewed no differently than the culture it is called to change. If we are not cautious, we will have an even greater fight on our hands. One in which we will not only have to fight to win souls to accept Jesus, but also fight to prove to the marketplace that we are not market driven. Prosperity is not at the center of our gospel, Jesus is. We, the Christian Church, must remind this world that our spirituality is not for sale; that Jesus’ love for all of humanity is free of charge. This is the only way that we effectively respond to the danger of Prosperity gospel.