Guest Post – Idol Worship: The God Of Prosperity
I used to think I understood the gospel of Jesus Christ. But as I’ve been teaching my children about Him, and really focusing on the simple truths, I’ve discovered that I had it wrong all along.
When people stand up in class, or at the pulpit, and say “I know God loves me, and I have been blessed with children.” I look over at my sister in law, who has PCOS and has struggled for years with infertility. She is so kind, always serving others, just such a good person doing her very best, and who loves the church.
What does this tell her?
Does God not love her? Is she not righteous enough?
What did her uncle do to earn the blessings of children when he and his girlfriend had their first baby in high school?
And when people say “I am so blessed with good health” what message does that send to a person who is struggling with their health? Or when someone dies of cancer?
Were they not righteous enough? Did God not love them?
And when someone shares how God protected them from getting into an accident on their way to work, as evidence of His love, of His hand in their life.
…What does that say to the mother who lost their child in a car crash?
Did their child not matter? Had he or she not earned enough love to be saved from harm?
This never set right with me. And as I’ve been teaching my children about Jesus, I’ve come to know Him a little better. And I realized I’ve been worshiping an Idol:
I was worshiping the idol of The God Of Prosperity.
This worship felt so safe. I would trade obedience like currency in exchange for blessings, and you can see who he loves by how much they have.
It was so simple, almost like a vending machine. If you don’t have the blessing you want, try adding more obedience in, and see which blessings fall out. Throw in enough, and someday you’ll get them all.
I had it all wrong.
When people come to church who are struggling, and they hear people say “I was blessed with children, and health, and money, and all of my grown kids are still in the Church, look how much God loves me. I earned this all by my obedience.”
…The rest of us leave feeling beaten down.
We aren’t good enough. God doesn’t love us enough. Somehow we did something, and are being cursed or punished.
THIS IS AN UNRIGHTEOUS TRADITION.
It is an unrighteous tradition brought in from other religions, other cultures, maybe from our fears but it is NOT of Christ.
When people come to church and hear THIS message, who wins? Who wants us to feel this way?
Satan. If he can make us think and feel these things then it’s a victory for him.
This life is HARD. And good things happen, and bad thing happen, and our bodies fail us, and our loved ones fail us, and we fail them. It sucks, but it’s part of life. These things aren’t punishments. They are part of the package, and we agreed to them before coming to this earth. They do not mean anything about Gods love, and when someone has more than you it’s NOT because he loves them more.
That is Prosperity Gospel, and I reject it. I do not worship the God of Prosperity anymore.
I only have interest in Jesus Christ.
So when I think about things I used to know about the Gospel, I like to stop and examine them. Even things I never thought to question. I ask myself: What did Jesus teach? How does this fit with His teachings? Then I ask: What does Satan teach? How does this fit with him?
Because you know he is working tirelessly to take the plain and simple teachings of Christ, and add in elements of fear, and coercion, and bribery, and shame.
And with this thought work, I’ve come to see things differently than ever before, and for me the best way is always through Christ.
Maybe what God blesses us with isn’t things like health or children or money. That falls apart when you realize even horrible people have these things.
Maybe His blessings are a kind heart, more ability to see and minister to those around us, a genuine interest in others, and the ability to look at them with love and not ever with judgement. Maybe that’s what we should be praying for.
Maybe when we look beyond our hearts, we are looking beyond the mark. And when we focus so much on the mote in someone else’s eye, we stop seeing them as our Savior does- as beautiful, broken, resilient souls.
When we look at others, maybe it should only be to love them, not to try and change them. We can’t do that. Only God can. And thinking we are mighty enough to change them, and that it’s our place to try- that’s Pride.
And when we look at the ways we are fortunate in our lives, and think of it as evidence of Gods favor? That might be Pride, too.
And thinking that we can bribe or bargain or purchase physical favors from our Lord- maybe that’s Pride as well.
My understanding isn’t perfect. And I hope that as I continue to grow and learn, I’ll look back in another ten years and say “I thought I knew.” But right now, when I pray, this feels good and true.
When I look to the Savior for guidance in how to help support the people around me, his words and parables are so clear. Love them.
That’s it. Only love.
And with that love, miracles truly can happen. When our hears are blessed and filled with compassion and love, we can be there to support each other in the hardest parts of life. The messiest, most heartbreaking aspects.
Maybe that’s what true miracles are.
Maybe that’s what Jesus was saying all along.