Lt. Kaffee: “I want the TRUTH!”
Col. Jessup: “You can’t HANDLE the truth!”
— A Few Good Men (1992) —
Those who preach the “Health, Wealth, and Prosperity” gospel enjoy trotting out Matthew 7:7 :
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
The truly ambitious ones will trot out John 14:12-14 :
“[W]hoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
“I will do whatever you ask in my name” … as if Almighty God can be commanded like a genie in a bottle! (“Hello, God? I’d like a BMW, an iPhone 6, and a waterfront house. Oh, and can I have it all by next Tuesday? Thanks!”)
According to the Prosperity gospel, the poor simply lack faith. If they just click their heels and keep affirming that they’re wealthy, all the treasures that this world can offer (expensive cars and house, vast fortunes, expensive jewelry, exotic vacations, etc.) will be theirs for the asking.
As far as preachers of the prosperity gospel are concerned, such things as the overall economy and world events have absolutely NOTHING whatsoever to do with a person’s earning capacity. They enjoy trotting out such bromides as “If you can believe it, you can achieve it!”
Is this something that we should really be encouraging? Would Christ encourage His followers to wallow in the things of this world?
The prosperity preachers hardly ever mention Luke 6:24-25, where Jesus says:
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
“Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.”
Or His advice to the rich young man in Matthew 19:21 (“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”).
Or further down the same chapter in verses 23 and 24:
“Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
How does one reconcile the Jesus of Luke 6:24-25 and Matthew 19:21 with today’s trendy “prosperity” gospel?
To make matters worse, not even pastors — those whom God has chosen to preach His Word — are immune from this sickness of materialism (Pastor Creflo Dollar recently appealed to his congregation for money to buy a $65-million Gulfstream jet).
(Seriously? Are you and your wife Taffi too good to fly Coach just like the rest of us? When the shepherd is flitting about the world in his private jet, who’s tending the FLOCK?)
The man whom we serve, Jesus of Nazareth, WALKED wherever He went (He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as He was on His way to Calvary, but that ranks as an exception). He was born in a manger and had no need of horses or fancy carriages during His years in ministry.
His successors in ministry — those whom God has appointed to prophecy and act in His name — would do well to emulate His example (at the very least, let us emulate Pope Francis, who is content to drive around Vatican City in a Ford Focus).