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The Prosperity Gospel Has Gone Viral

(4) You’re exhausted.

I understand some people are exhausted for medical reasons or from simply working hard. I get that. But what I’m talking about is the weariness of the soul and body from the endless pursuit of stuff. Life is a sprint from one thing to the next. The whole day is filled with the pursuit and pleasure of things. We work and play—then we repeat. This is what we are told to do. But what about what you cannot see? What about the world to come? What about the heart? Do we as Christians not believe that there is a relationship between our bodies and our souls? Is there a connection between the restlessness and lack of contentment in our souls that so drives us to grind up our lives day by day?

(5) You think that if you work hard for God then he will work hard for you.

Many have bought into this lie. We go to church, keep our noses clean and do whatever extra we can. Then we hope God will do his part and bless us with good kids, a nice house, a steady job and plenty of money. But what happens when the company downsizes? When the kid starts taking drugs? When the 401k shrinks? We go into private litigation in our minds because God has not kept his end of the bargain. We want to sue God for his prosperity promises that we have signed on to.

(6) You believe suffering is an intrusion instead of an instrument.

The Christian, of all people, should know that suffering is part of the Christian life (Jn. 15:20; Phil 1:29). We follow a Savior who was crucified after all! The prosperity thinking has shaped our thinking to see that suffering is an intrusion in our lives. “Why is this happening? How could God let this happen?” These are questions that operate from a position of privilege and, frankly, biblical ignorance. It is happening because we live in a fallen, broken world. But it is also happening because God uses suffering to strengthen and sanctify his people. He makes us more like Jesus through our suffering (Jam. 1:2-4; Rom. 5:3-5; 1 Pet. 1:6-9; Heb. 5.7; etc.). Far from an intrusion, suffering is an instrument from God for our good and his glory. How do you view suffering?

(7) You could just live here forever.

When so much of the emphasis is upon the here and now and so little is placed upon the New City that awaits us, we have to ask the question, “Do you even want to go to heaven?” Let’s say I had the ability to make you a deal where you could stay here on this world forever. You would never die and the ability to enjoy this world would not end. You could play all the video games, watch all the sunsets, drink and eat all the whatever, there would be football, hunting, shopping and whatever else you want. You could just ride the merry-go-round of this world forever without ever having to put in another quarter. The only catch is this: no God. That’s right, you can’t pray, read the Bible, go to church or anything. It is on the shelf. Would you take it?

The very thing that makes heaven so heavenly is God. That which makes Christians long for heaven is the lack of God-wardness here (starting in our own souls but moving out to the world around us). Ultimately, we don’t want more rides on the merry-go-round, we want fellowship with God unhindered by our sinful flesh!

Prosperity thinking has subtly lulled us to sleep dreaming solely of sunsets, success and self-fulfillment. Friends, it’s not ultimately about any of this. The gospel brings us to God. I’m afraid we’ve gotten this twisted. The prosperity gospel has gone viral and the worst part is, many of us don’t even realize it.

(This post is an excerpt from a sermon preached at Emmaus Bible Church on 9/27/15 from Habakkuk. Here is the link.)  

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Erik is a pastor at Emmaus Bible Church (EmmausBibleChurch.org), a church plant south of Omaha. Converse with Erik on Twitter at @erikraymond.