The prosperity gospel is not just something out there.
For those of us who know its destruction, its easy to believe that it lives in TV land with pastors raising money for jets and ministers selling holy water. But that’s not true. This huckster false gospel lies in the heart of all of us.
And especially we who have never truly tasted the bitterness of hunger and famine and nakedness. It perch’s in wait on the edge, ready to leap at the moment of disappointment or discomfort.
And we allow it to, because we don’t even know it’s there.
In the west we live lives of opulence in which our religion and our lifestyle and our hopes and dreams have all been moulded together as one entity. When we speak about the Lords blessing we always mean it in the way of material goods or health. And when we suffer, we question the Lords goodness for us.
Then we raise our children in settings that elevate those material blessing and encourage dream following, whilst emphasizing being ‘good’. Our kids become adults with very little Cross-bearing foundation and become disillusioned by a topsy turvy world.
Unbeknownst to us this lifestyle is fodder for that tiny entitled prosperity religion to grow in size and expectation. We expect things to go well for us. Why? Because God is good and therefore His desire is that we would experience good things. All the time. A blessed life is a full life. A blessed life is one in which our dreams are coming true.
And when things don’t go well, or we are minorly inconvenienced we become functional atheists.
Atheists who still get up early and head to church on Sundays, sing the songs, and listen to sermons. All the while internally allowing bewilderment from our current trial erase all we know is true about the gospel. About Christ crucified and risen. About the great commission and what the reality of that means.
Gods goodness is suspect. His love is in question. Our Christian purpose within that sits on the chopping block. Is He even out there?…we start to wonder.
The other day my husband and I watched the documentary The Dropbox. If you haven’t seen it? Please do. There is nothing more perspective-giving then watching a man quite literally lay down his life and health for helpless, unloved children of every degree of disability.
Indeed the bloody-Cross gospel is known by pastor Lee.
He and his wife have set aside all desires of comfort and earthly prosperity in order that they may be used to further the Christian call to defend orphans. His house is full of both biological and adopted children and all are loved and cared for. And why? As he says because ‘God adopted me’.
So every day pastor Lee straps on his Cross, runs toward the dropbox when the bell is rang, carefully takes the child out and prays over them with joy.
His hope is in Heaven. Not here.
We know Jesus never promised us earthly comfort. He warned us life would be full of tribulation (John 16:33). Never did He teach that obedience to Him would guarantee a life of ease. We’ve bought the lie and allowed it to become an iron-clad theology of the heart. And it chokes out our joy. True joy that only comes from a firm knowledge that in our trial we share in Christ’s suffering (1 Peter 4:13).
Before you think I’m being glib about suffering, do not misread me. Depression and grief and sadness is not necessarily the outcome of functional atheism. However it can be. As Christians it is our job to take note of our heart, recognize sin, repent of it and then lay it aside.
But the good news is we have a Great High Priest whose promise is His presence with us through it.
If you, like I, feel the prosperity false gospel producing an atheistic thought-life, put your hand in mine and lets fight against it together. Take heart, this world is not our home. Our hope is in heaven. And there…
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:4)