Thursday, March 08, 2007

Three Greatest Challenges Facing the Church (#1)

Prosperity Gospel

The idea that God wants you to be rich, and that with enough faith you will be rich. This has been one of the biggest issues the church has faced in the last few years, and I don't think the next few are going to be any better. It is easy to understand why this is such a popular idea, it is a lot easier to ignore the extreme poverty in the world around us if we believe that God wants us to be as rich as we are, it is comfortable to think God wants us to spend our money on ourselves.

The truth is, God does bless all of His faithful, just not all of them financially, and those He does bless financially, we are under a mandate to use those blessings to bless others.

All across this country their are churches growing rapidly in numbers lead by preachers preaching nothing more then "God wants you to be rich". These church's may be large in size, but they have yet to become the norm, and I think most mainline congregations would frown upon the teachings of these churches, but have we let prosperity gospel spill over in it's own way into our churches? I think we have and it seems like it's getting worse.

The popularity of books like "The Prayer of Jabez" shows how much this idea has really caught on. Anytime an entire book is written about one chapter of scripture I get a bit leery. "Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!" And God granted him what he requested." (1Chron. 4:10) This is the only time Jabez is mentioned, it does not go on to explain what, when or how God granted this request, but the author of "The Prayer of Jabez" believes that if you say this prayer often enough and with enough meaning that God will make you wealthy.

If living a Christ like life really means living selflessly, I cannot accept the idea that as long as there is one person on this earth with less then I have, that God wants me to keep more to myself. That does not line up with the words of Christ in the gospels.

The idea that there is any blessing that can be stacked on top the gift of salvation and freedom from eternal bondage that Christ offers us all is absolutly false. To beleive that there is anything more that can compare to that gift is to completely misunderstand or even reject the truth of the gospel. The more the church falls for this lie the farther we will be getting from being any sort of light or body of Christ on earth.

Okay, sorry about that, there are few things that get me more upset then prosperity gospel.

Here is a song by Derek Webb that says it perfectly:

Beloved by Derek Webb
beloved these are dangerous times
because you are weightless like a leaf from the vine
and the wind has blown you all over town
because there is nothing holding you to the ground

so now you would rather be
a slave again than free from the law

beloved listen to me
don’t believe all that you see
and don’t you ever let anyone tell you
that there’s anything that you need
but me

beloved these are perilous days
when your culture is so set in it’s ways
that you will listen to salesmen and thieves
preaching other than the truth you’ve received

because they are telling lies
for they cannot circumcise your hearts

beloved there is nothing more
no more blessings and no more rewards
than the treasure of my body and blood
given freely to all daughters and sons

Well, let me know if you have any further thoughts on this or if you just flat out disagree.


jennylou said...

I have to admit that Prosperity Gospel is one of those ideas, very akin to the American Dream, that I really struggle to rid myself of. It's honestly my gut response to feel that any money, success, etc. that comes my way has either been earned by me or is a gift of God for me. It's constant work for me to pause, thank God, rejoice in what I have, and ask what good things we get to do with it all together. I do believe that it is good for us to rejoice and give thanks and that giving is just an extension of that thanksgiving.

Emily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emily said...

Oops. Sorry for messing up your page. I agree with you, I just think that it is really hard to give in response to our blessing and do it thankfully and joyfully. Unless I give with thanksgiving and joy, I'm still in bondage to the lie of prosperity. I guess what I'm saying is the challenge lies deeper than believing the prosperity lie, it lies in living the truth about blessings. I think I'm saying what jennylou is saying.

jennylou said...

I totaly agree. said...

Ooops, that last comment was actually me...

urbanmonk said...

Hey man, I'm waiting for the other installments. You're leaving me hanging.


J.R. said...

Okay Brain, it's up now.