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Peace or prosperity?

June 10, 2009

alseep stormI was in a meeting about a month ago when someone made a comment that caught me a little off-guard, and I’ve been chewing on it ever since.

We were talking about jobs and recessions and finances, and this individual started to discuss the idea (and said individual was mostly regurgitating what had been preached by someone else whose name I didn’t recognize or, thus, remember) that Christians should prosper financially in the midst of recession. It started out sounding like a side-effect of being a Christian, but came around to sounding like a duty.

The part that really got me was when the person explained we should prosper in a bad financial environment – that God wants us to – so that we can be a “light” to non-Christians. So that other people will “wonder what you’ve got,” and be drawn to Jesus.

I’m down with being financially prosperous. God – or anyone for that matter – is more than welcome to make large deposits in my checking account, or get me a better job, or pay off my education loans for me. I believe that God provides for his people, but this idea seems a little out of whack.

Because I seem to remember a time when Jesus fed 5000+ hungry people for free. Most of those people were average, many were probably poorer-than-average, and they probably really needed a free meal. But the next day, as they were going along with Jesus, He turned on them, delivered one of the most difficult messages of his pastoral ministry, and watched many of them walk away.

Why? Did he only have a couple multiplying-loaves-and-fishes miracles in Him? Doubt it. I think Jesus was testing their love. If it’s not just about the food – not just about material gain – will you come?

If your successful business venture in the midst of a recession is what draws people to Jesus, what are they going to do when the economy recovers? What are they going to do if it doesn’t “work” for them? Are you really drawing people to Jesus at all, or are you drawing people to what they’ve always been drawn to: safety, prosperity, and worldly pleasures?

Jesus said to take on His burden, because it’s easy. We’re told to cast our cares upon Him, and take up the cross of discipleship instead. How about instead of trying to get rich in the name of evangelism, we press in to the presence of God in faith – even in the midst of very trying times – and let our peace speak for the gospel? Let’s draw people to the God who doesn’t promise smooth sailing, but who does promise to never leave us.

The whole thing has inspired a bit of a Bible study on biblical prosperity and finances. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, what do you think?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul DeLaughter permalink
    June 10, 2009 11:14 am

    Very good. Jesus said… Let your light shine before men. That they may see the GOOD THAT YOU DO and give glory to God. Not how rich you are.

  2. Jacob Zarris permalink
    June 10, 2009 12:42 pm

    I like the though of this a lot, in our world the health and wealth message is preached and quite often. The idea that God want’s to bless His children is very true, but what is the idea of the blessing is more the question. People in the states view blessing as having a good number in the bank account, no car loans, and ect. But places like Colombia for example blessing is to have a fridge haft full. I mean if you had one haft full you were doing really really good. Take that to now we view it as so much material events that we think blessing on in the idea that “if i don’t have a nice house I must not have a blessing.” No, the blessing is to be a Child of God, to live in freedom, to as lex said to let his yoke become ours. Cause if you see Jesus life he told a man that the Son of man had no place to lay his head. So yeah, what is a blessing is the question.

  3. Lex permalink
    June 10, 2009 2:34 pm

    @Paul – Right. And part of that is the heart condition too. You can’t give a lot if you don’t have anything to give.

    @Jacob – Totally agree that our idea of a “blessing” is pretty relative.

    And just to clarify, again – I’m not saying we shouldn’t be blessed, or that poverty is holy or anything like that. Just the idea of using prosperity to “attract” people to the gospel seems deceptive.

    So how do we – in the midst of a material society that’s floundering through this recession – draw people to the TRUTH of the gospel? To Jesus, and not just His perceived benefits?

  4. June 10, 2009 8:15 pm

    I agree Lexi… In a recession, or ANY tough time, it’s being strong and keeping your head high that will show people WHY G-d is something to yearn for. The concept that G-d = equals money = curiosity = more followers… It’s messed up.

    In fact, it is against the very ideas of what Jesus taught, or any other prophet of G-d. NONE of the teachings rely on a relation between something as fickle as money as this recession proves. There is a reason that if you want to know what Jesus said about money it was more or less to pay taxes… But no where in scripture does it say prospering having to do with financial income.

    But very important, it is to realize that the teachings of prophets both big and small are about character, faith, and the strength between the two… Financial successes, if any relation to those two things exists it comes from wisdom, and doing well with your blessings. People don’t mind doing business with people that do good things with their money, especially help watch over G-d’s flock; and that is a duty of the rich and poor a like.

  5. June 10, 2009 8:17 pm

    And that light Paul mentioned… That doesn’t come from you, it comes through you from G-d, it’s not a reflection of the sun off a piece of silver around your neck.

    • Lex permalink
      June 11, 2009 9:51 am

      Word.

      Although I have to admit that last line gave me a great idea. I say we produce some massive bling, charge a ton for it, and market it to Christians. “Bling for Jesus.” Tagline: “Let your light so shine …” Eh? ;)

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