My husband and I have been looking for a new church since we moved, it’s not easy when you really loved the one you went to in the first place. Churches can be damaging places, being filled with flawed people and all, but they’re even more damaging when they’re led by idiots.
I don’t know that I have ever walked out of a church before. I tend to be the researching type and fairly forgiving, giving things a chance to pull it together. Nobody is perfect, right? I do that with books all the time, reading on and hoping against all odds it will get better. And then there is the husband, who is the positive ray of sunshine between the two of us. Mr. I See The Good In (almost) Everything was the one that said we should leave. That, my friends, is how you know it’s bad.
Prosperity teaching is all the rage these days. And why not? We want an awesome life. We want the money and the car and the perfect family with the perfect house to come back to after our perfect vacation. And according The Secret (we’ve all heard of that by now) and other positive manifestation teachings all you have to do is be absolutely positive about everything, believe in it and it will be so. Why? Because the universe wants you to have it.
So you’re the only one in the way of your destiny.
Here’s my problem with that and my problem with the church teaching the same thing (just different terminology): It’s a slippery slope. There is a difference between having hope in difficult circumstances or embracing life for all it is and this teaching. The prosperity teaching puts all the weight on YOU, the human being. Shouldn’t we take responsibility? Sure. But here is Scenario One. You hear about someone losing their house, job or health. If the success of those things lies with how positive that person is being then what’s our first thought? They must be doing something wrong. What’d they do to deserve that? They weren’t trying hard enough. They didn’t tithe enough. They didn’t believe. As Christians, we are commanded to leave the judging to God but this encourages judgmental thinking.
We are also told that we can only serve one God, we cannot serve both God and Money. But Prosperity Gospel takes this and adds to it the reaping and sowing verses. If you want to have prosperity then you need to reap prosperity. Be a giver people! Yeah! You want a better life? Give money! You’ll get money! If you’re having money trouble it’s because you don’t trust God enough with your money, you need to give it to Him. Cuz God wants you to be rich! You know, let’s just go and get totally attached to this world and the material “blessings” and it’s ok because that’s what the Bible (when we manipulate it and take it out of context) says to do! DOES NOBODY SEE HOW THIS MEANS YOU’RE STILL FOCUSED ON MONEY AND NOT GOD??? Money is still the end goal. I believe that your heart towards money matters. I believe that God might use financial circumstances to bring an issue to your attention and work with you on trusting Him in every area. I believe we aspire to be responsible with our finances. I also KNOW that shit happens and it happens to the best of people and when that shit happens it doesn’t mean there is some failure you are being punished for.
Tithing is an easy example but it’s not the only one they use. How about infertility? Have you given your children to God, in your heart? Do you trust him with them? Because if you haven’t been able to have a baby THIS is probably why. My first son is with Jesus, and I don’t resent it. Does that mean my “sacrifice” earned me some kids? Hasn’t so far. And if I kept with that prosperity gospel I would be angry with me, angry with God and angry with my husband who I am sure it would be easy to transfer the pain to. This teaching does not help people cope with the troubles in life, it increases their depression!
Prosperity gospel is a lie and it manipulates the Word. It’s very sad because not only is the message hurtful to those struggling with something, it breeds judgement and criticism instead of charitable natures that want to help others because we all go through trials. The Bible doesn’t say that trials are an indicator of how close or far we are to God! God didn’t say we’d experience trials because we are horrible sinners that withhold from him. He said we will experience them but not to worry because he is there. That we should count ourselves blessed when we experience trials. And Jesus experienced torture and death after living a very amazing life with none of the things the prosperity gospel promises. He certainly didn’t deserve what he got from the world, what makes you think you will be any different? But his gift from his Father was eternal life, healing. That’s our offer too.