Somehow I think I heard one too many prosperity teachers in my teenage years and have a slightly cynical reaction to anything that smells anything like prosperity doctrine. So when God stirred my heart to focus this year on the `Favour of God’ I must admit it made me cringe and I do so with a little apprehension.
I arrived in Australia in 1981 and finished highschool in 1989. That makes me a true 80s chick. I spent the 70s in Africa completely oblivious to the films and music of that decade but the 80s was a different story. The 80s was a fascinating history lesson in itself but for me it was my first taste of all things Australian. I fell in love with Australia in all it’s forms. The 80s were a time of great change, not just for me and my generation, but for the whole world. The microwave oven, the video recorder and the CD player came into our homes. We learned about AIDS, the hole in the ozone layer, the destruction of the rain forest and the greenhouse effect. My generation was the MTV generation and although Australian television began to mature in this decade we were still greatly influenced by America. Even great change came right at the end of the decade with the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
What has any of this got to do with Favour?
As a young girl entering my teens my introduction to the Australian way of life was confronting. We arrived with nothing but the cloths on our back to live in a house that wasn’t ours and my Dad had to find a job. Things were different. I quickly adapted to fit in and yet was slow to swallow everything I saw and heard. The reality of the 80s was that it was easy to see how good things were for some people and even easier to not see how bad things had become for others. This was the case in fashion (check out the amount of taffeta in that one photo of my highschool formal), in music, decor, in film and media, in politics…. and in the church. The 80s was decade of greed, materialism and the appearance of perfection. This was also the decade where the prosperity doctrine found it’s prominence both in the church and through the rise of `christian’ television. This prosperity doctrine is damaging and destructive!
Mark Driscol (one of my favourite preachers and theologians) makes this comment about the prosperity doctrine that began to flood the church and christian literature throughout the 80’s and into the 90’s: `This erroneous teaching states that the truly holy and faithful will be blessed with financial and phyiscal prosperity. The epicenter of this error is greed, materialism, and consumerism, and the proclivity of some to present Jesus as the one who gives us our idol of Mammon/Money. To make matters worse, this theological error is promoted around the world on “Christian” television and radio. The effects are damaging, and that damage continues around the world, particularly plaguing poorer nations where uneducated pastors sit on gold thrones wearing white suits and promise a hundredfold return on investment to their impoverished flock because it is what they learned from American preachers.’
I wonder how you view prosperity and the favour of God. Everyone of us filter our knowledge of God through our experience and our culture. How has your life experience and your culture or even church culture framed your beliefs about the Favour of God? How do you view God and his promises when you don’t get what you want or when things get tough or things are not easy? … The prosperity doctrine is heretical BUT prosperity is biblical. How do you process the difference? How do you live with framwork of favour if your understanding of favour and prospering has been tainted with heresy and half truths? How do you live according to favour and frame your life with favour and attract the favour of God without becoming gullible or cynical? Are you so consumed with your own greed (oops I meant needs) that you are missing how bad things have become for someone else (the 80’s taught us how to do that well?)
Favour helps us see…it puts the right frames on our eyes to see what we are meant to see. God’s desire for you is that you will prosper and yet that word prosper can in itself stir doubt instead of faith. It is faith that pleases God so don’t be too quick to throw it all away.