‘Prosperity’ makes me cringe….

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.

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3 thoughts on “‘Prosperity’ makes me cringe….

  1. Processing: I am favoured becasue God loves me and made a way for me to escape the effects of my sinful nature and given me the ability to overcome it. He prospers me by enabling me to become more like him. Sometimes, because he is a loving father He blesses me in other ways too (a family to love and be loved by, wonderul friends, health, a great job, a place to live etc) and also via the rewards that come from living a life that he’s happy with (such as – theoretically – not getting speeding fines because I don’t break the law and so on). If I happen to also be blessed financially, it’s not necesarily so it can make my bank account look good. It might instead be to pass on to someone else, to support a cause, to do something with it that improves the lives of others. Nevertheless, regardless of my circumstances, I am always favoured, even if I don’t acknowlege it some days, and I’m always blessed, because He died so that I could accept his forgivness.

  2. I absolutely love this how you have decribed it. Quiet disturbing the prosperity doctrine. So refreshing to hear people speak otherwise – thanks for that!!! I’m really REALLY enjoying hearing about the “favour” of God and learning about what this actually means. Wow – there’s sooo much to think about here, thanks again! Great post. (btw.. great outfits – true 80’s for sure :))

  3. My favour does not come from the external add-ons that our society insists is a must to have favour and happiness. I should know, for this very New Years Eve, I sat in a heap on the floor of my brand new 40 square home. As magnificent and as beautiful as any hew home in one of those flashy grand home magazines. I was exhausted to the bone, and my heart ached with loneliness. I had taken my eyes off of the Lord while I “Strived” my heart out to bring the project to completion. I wept. It had been a hot 40 Degree day and a stifeling night. We had no cooling in the new home yet, and my husband had gone out for the evening to join in the celebration that new years eve brings. I lay in bed and looked at the clock. It was 10.30pm. I wiped the tears from my eyes and looked at my 3 year old asleep beside me, and then at the mattress on the floor at my 6mth old. (I had brought them in to my room to be close to me and to allow the some what cooler breeze from outside to come in and cool them.) They were beautiful and precious. I looked around at the walls of this magnificent home and then back at my children. And right then it was proven. That all the striving in the world, all the “Stuff” money can buy does not bring one once of happiness. I had always wanted to believe this saying but also believed that I had never experienced a material blessing on such a magnitude to put it to the test. Well here was my test and here was my answer. I listened to my little ones breath as they slept. The Lord picked me up and held me and reminded me that he had never left me. I felt his loving arms around me, took a deep breath and relaxed in his presence.
    Then a vision of a future time flashed into my mind. A time when all the “Stuff” including my home was taken away from me, from everyone. It looked more like a scene from one of those blockbuster apocalypse movies. I’m not sure if this vision was from the enemy to try and scare me, but all it did was re-ensure me the security I felt in the arms of the Lord. That horrible but amazing image filled me with Love, security and Purpose. His purpose. Emerged in that vision I felt no different to that now loved and secure feeling I felt sitting in that magnificent home by myself with my sleeping children.
    For me, favour is the gift of a healed heart after being abandoned, the nurture of Devine appointments after being neglected and bullied. It is the love and restoration that only the Lord can bring, that gives you a peace and joy beyond the ability of any material thing.

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