Saturday, December 26, 2009

Prosperity Gospel - The Lie

"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" Luke 2:6&7

I've attended, written, directed, acted in, sang in, and/or a combination of the aforementioned in dozens of Church Christmas Pageants over the years. Every one has been different, and yet strikingly similar in that the birth of the Christ child is ultimately the central focus of the pageant - the "reason for the season", if you please. It seems to me, however, that the focus turns away from Jesus and onto self so quickly and easily throughout the remainder of the year. Many clergy will take serious umbrage to that claim, and I get that. I know that the INTENT is to always keep Christ as the focal point in church, and that it would be politically incorrect to profess otherwise. But the truth remains, that "Christ" has been removed from "Christianity" in many of the mega-churches. Jesus was born in a no-frills environment, to parents who had very little. He didn't even have a cute little "going home from the hospital" outfit. Yet getting Jesus, along with "the frills", seems to be what a lot of the churches are selling these days.

Just before Jesus was crucified, He told his disciples to go from town and town and tell people what they had seen and that Jesus had died for their sins. He wanted as many as possible to know that He would come back for them. He went on and told his disciples they should have no personal belongings, but rather they should depend on the kindness of believers in each of the places they went. You can read Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in Matthew 10, Mark 6, and also in Luke 10.

Jesus does NOT say that having money or belongings is sinful. He does instruct us to refrain from flaunting our wealth, and to never draw attention to our giving. Matthew 6:1-4 instructs: "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." The Bible does tell us that the LOVE of money, not money itself is evil (1 Timothy 6:10), but there is certainly nothing wrong with HAVING money. We should never ever, however, let anyone tell us that following Jesus will LEAD to prosperity, as that is NOT what the Bible teaches.

The "Prosperity Gospel" as taught by Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and Joel Osteen does not have its foundation in Biblical truth. Jesus came to earth in the humble surroundings of what was most likely a cave. His mommy didn't even have a receiving blanket to wrap around her newborn son. She was sent home without benefit of a pacifier or a hospital gift pack filled with diapers. His mother didn't get bouquets of roses, or colorful latex balloons that pronounced for the world, "It's A Boy!"

On this Christmas day, I remind you that Jesus came to offer us the free gift of eternal life - of salvation from sin and decay! He didn't come to promise us fat bank accounts, fancy cars, and castles on a hill. He does guarantee us a mansion located on a street of gold built just for us in God's kingdom. Get off the pew and hold one another accountable to the truth. The "prosperity gospel" is NOT truth. Period. Get off the pew and make sure the weak do not fall victim to this lie. Put on the belt of truth and march out with the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit. You've got the armor - wear it! Get off the pew!

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