Monday, June 10, 2013

The Blasphemy of the Prosperity Gospel.

Luke 18:18 -30  A certain ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"  Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.  You know the commandments: 'You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.'"  He replied, "I have kept all these since my youth."  When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."  But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich.  Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, 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."  Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?"  He replied, "What is impossible for mortals is possible for God."  Then Peter said, "Look, we have left our homes and followed you."  And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,  who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life."

Jesus lived in a culture that believed that God showered riches on the righteous, and - conversely - poverty was a sign of God’s displeasure. Luke records a moment when Jesus opposes this idea: the crowd is stunned to hear the rabbi say “how hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God” (Lk 18:24).  They would have been thinking – “Surely their riches are a sign of God favour… a guarantee of their membership of God’s realm”.   Jesus repeatedly hammers the message home that God has a particular compassion for the poor, the helpless, and the marginalized. [1]  

Sadly there are many who have not heard this. There are Christian teachers who teach that prosperity is guaranteed for those who follow Jesus; that the preachers of Jesus are to enjoy luxury and comfort; and those who hear their message will have treasure from God if only they tithe their income. This “name it and claim it” theology is the ultimate blasphemy:  it turns God into a service provider – and humanity into greedy consumers of God’s provision. Only when we recognize out status as stewards of this earth will we discover the call of God to use our possessions to benefit all of creation.

For today: ask how you can bless someone who has a greater need than you.  


Third Sunday after Trinity
33 Christian Maturity
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 207.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.



[1] See for example Luke 6:20-25;

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