|Prosperity Theology - more about self|
(Psa 37:25 NKJV) I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen
the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.
In the Logical Christian Blog (an NCC supporter), 27 June 2010 entitled “The Anti-Prosperity Hypocrite”, advocated the prosperity theology based on Luke 4:16-22. It was said that the “good news to the poor” was not that they remained poor. In John 10:10, it was said that Jesus came to give us a more abundant life that in our context would surely include more riches. Yet, the bible does not give or imply such interpretations. The context and setting of Jesus’ ministry was with the poor and the outcasts with no rags to riches story due to their conversion. Jesus Himself did not entertain the rich, politicians, those that have reached the pinnacle of society according to our world standards. Jesus seldom asked for money for His ministry.
Whilst God does not promise us prosperity, He promised that we shall not have lack, and have enough for our needs that we need not beg for a living.It is true that we are blessed and that God will provide, but yet we are not to be so rich as to trust in riches by itself rather than living by faith in a good God. The manna for the day will come, but not a storehouse for a few years which will grow rotten and occupy our hearts and desires.
The accusation of hypocrisy by "Logical Christian" of not selling all our processions and quit our day jobs to preach the Gospel is contradictory as no one was asking Pastor Kong or Pastor Joseph Prince to give free services, rather be moderate and not be opened to criticisms of extravagance. After all the money obtained is tax free in the same manner as a charity where the profit is not the goal but meeting the basic needs of running the church. We could hardly rationalize that a 500K basic salary a year and additional income due to book sales, sermon tapes, videos, and speaking fees worldwide could be accounted for by a charity beyond the mere necessity of subsistence implied by the charity status in the first place.
The greatest sin is not homosexuality or our innate sexual orientation. The greatest sin is the worship of self to build our own kingdom of power and wealth, with a self centeredness and focus. When we preached against the gay community, we are lifting up ourselves, and our own heterosexuality. It is a worship of self where we become sinless and all our sins we put on others – the gay community being the scapegoat. The Proposition 8 won the day when they changed tactics and focus on the self centeredness of society, playing on the fears that their children might somehow become gay because of proposition 8. The anti-gay agenda by the Christian Churches in Singapore represents the worst kind of self centeredness and self righteous worship. We are not doing it for morality or the defense of straight marriage but because we feel far more superior and morally righteous than gays. Our own heterosexual failings – the many divorces, abortions and adultery made it even more necessary to create or spin a picture of how evil gays are that we might look good.
The idea of using religion as a means to get wealth for ourselves seems self serving. We are not running the Government of a country or the CEO of a big company with a billion dollar sales and they also do not have the luxury to invoke God’s name for funds to support their lifestyles as the pastors would. Perhaps we are following the Christian Right in America where Pastor Benny Hinn is said to be at least USD 2 million dollars. His ministry takes in an estimate USD 200 million a year (CHC would be a mini church in comparison).
Why do the mega church pastors preach a “prosperity theology”? It is to rationalize the millions they get each year, and not appear as hypocrites taking money from the poor and those who can’t afford it. We were really giving to God they claimed instead of the church and it was an opportunity to receive a hundred fold blessings in return. Without this argument, the focus would be why are we making the church pastor so rich and the need for the church to have hundreds of millions in reserve when many in the congregation just have enough to live by month after month.
(Luke 9:58 NKJV) And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."
Jesus did not preach a prosperity theology because he did not need to. Even if Jesus had asked for money, He was credible because He used it not for Himself for He lived simply and humbly. Jesus had nothing, it was all shared. He had credibility because He did not live a lifestyle any different from the poor. He probably slept out in the open and did not have a house. He was able to identify with the masses, and the masses with Him.
How could we talk about putting God first, giving money to the poor, when we live in extravagance having a BMW seven series car, a Mercedes, or an Audi, and a large condominium in Orchard Road, or having a very high paying Job. We are giving out of our abundance or loose change but asking others to give out of their poverty. It is easy to say put God first when one have everything in life.
The mega churches are considered charity and are tax free, means that the money could not be used as if it is a business. The money becomes a shared pool, much like Jesus and the disciples had a treasurer as the money was shared and used as required. They were not doing business, for the house of God was supposed to be a house of prayer rather than be subjected to profits in business dealings, or opportunities to earn money from the poor by claims of healing or a hundred fold returns. There could hardly be an equal sacrifice in the mega churches when the financial decisions and power on the usage of funds lies with a selected few and there is no equal representation. In CHC for example, only 5% are voting members, yet the 95% are expected to tithe. An analogy would be allowing only 5% of the nation to vote whilst insisting that everyone pays taxes.
In many 3rd world countries, the Prosperity theology is preached to draw people to Jesus for many in this world are suffering from hardship and financial lack. Jesus becomes a way not only to salvation in a heaven to come, but a manifestation of a heaven here on earth. This theology leads to the notion that the kingdoms of this world ie Government, Business, Media/Entertainment, Family, Education, Arts, and Religion become the kingdoms of god. In reality, after 20 years of the teaching on prosperity in America, the rich did become richer, but the poor became poorer and the middle class slowly disappearing. There is 10% unemployment in America, yet the rich still enjoys a rising stock market and high profits.
Jesus chose to work with the humble, rejected, and the outcasts because He looks at our heart and motivations. At the end, are we motivated by money to follow after God or in response to His love for us? Would we still follow Him when we do not have much, but looking forward to a new kingdom to come in heaven where we will have riches and be reunited with God. We are prosperous because we have Jesus Christ. He is our all in all. In Him all things are possible, even healing and wealth. We may not have much but God promised us that we will never suffer lack in Christ, though not necessarily be rich for too much gold will inevitably separate us from God, for we are just mere humanity on our way to God’s heavenly abode.
Jesus probably doesn’t want our money (10%), but want our entire lives (100%) dedicated to God for His Kingdom purposes and to continue on the ministry of Christ here on Earth. Can we still follow God and trust that He will provide and see us through?