By Learnmore Zuze
A story is told of a dog that died. The owner loved his dog so dearly that he went to his pastor and said, “Pastor, my dog has died this morning. I have one request which, if you grant, I would be grateful forever. Please, could there be a service for the poor creature?”
The Pastor replied, “No, we can’t have service for animals in the church. The church is for human beings and not for pets. However, there is one of the new churches mushrooming down the road, try them, maybe they will accept such a request.”
The dejected man rose from the chair and shook his head as he headed for the door on his way out. Just as he was about to leave he enquired, “Pastor, but do you think at that church they will accept a donation of three thousand dollars for personal use by their pastor in return for the burial service?”
The Pastor shouted, “Blood of Jesus! Come back! Why didn’t you tell me all along that the dog was a Christian? Let’s have the service right way. Where is the dog?” The story may sound funny but contained therein is a deadly and Satan-induced cancer that is eating the unsuspecting church of today.
Whereas the shepherd and follower of Christ of the past focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and repentance, today’s follower has been schooled to believe that the focus of the Christian is the acquisition of worldly wealth.
The prosperity Gospel teaches that God wants Christians to be prosperous financially, physically and spiritually. This Gospel has taken centre stage influencing millions of people and has had startling success because of what it promises the believer.
Marketers of this gospel have touched the hearts of millions of eager listeners seeking to escape from the jaws of poverty. This gospel is premised on the idea that God wants you to be rich and to have excess in your life and that your physical possessions indicate your spiritual worthy.
Below I quoted live recorded statements by prosperity preachers.
· “Today’s service is on Seven steps to prosperity …”
· “If you are still a lodger then you need to understand that poverty is not from God.”
· “Receive your house, receive your miracle…”
· “The very moment you stepped in this church, poverty and sickness have departed from your family.”
It’s undeniable that the Bible has many scriptures which tell of God’s blessings. However, the tragedy of those who peddle the gospel of prosperity is their myopic focus on these scriptures and reluctance to understand the core objective of the Gospel.
Did Jesus impliedly or explicitly teach that His Gospel would also be a tool for earthly prosperity? Is the prosperity gospel the urgent message that the world needs in these last days? Suppose there is a father who has a family to feed and one day brings a bar of chocolate to the excitement of his family.
The next day the man brings two more bars of chocolate and again the family is happy. The father increases the chocolate bars he takes home in the next few days much to the delight of his family.
Meanwhile, his home has run out of the basic food like mealie-meal and oil yet surprisingly, the man of the house continues to bring more chocolate. Consequently the family reaches a point where all that is left for food is chocolate.
The adamant man continues to hoard more boxes of chocolate out rightly ignoring the basic food critical for the survival of his family. Eventually, the children get wasted and emaciated from undernourishment but the father does not relent. What do you make of such a man?
Personally, I do not see anything wrong with a father bringing goodies for his family. The problem arises when all that a father brings is chocolate. Bringing chocolate becomes wrong if not evil because it now threatens the very survival of the family.
Chocolate becomes detrimental to the children if they are lacking basic food which nourishes. That illustration aptly prescribes why the prosperity gospel has become dangerous.
The prosperity gospel, just like the chocolate, has become a detrimental force used by the devil to distract Christians from feeding on the life-giving message of salvation and repentance from sin.
Prosperity is the chocolate in the life of a Christian and salvation knowledge is the basic food critical for the survival of the Christian. I maintain that the gospel of prosperity has since become an evil because it’s the only thing that Christians are bombarded with ahead of the priceless message of salvation today.
Chances are nine against one that the sermon on your TV right now is teaching you about prosperity. Ministers have become so intoxicated with preaching wealth with the effect that the poor feel out of place in today’s churches.
A theme study of the Bible demands that we do not focus on isolated verses but search for what Jesus said about wealth in general. It is the work of the devil to single out one or two scriptures and then twist them to deceive millions of people.
The evidence against the gospel of prosperity is simply overwhelming. Jesus Christ spoke against the gospel of prosperity in many ways as follows:
- Do not build for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust can destroy (Matt 6:19,20)
- · Foxes and birds have some where to lay their heads but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head (Matt 8:20)
- · But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort (Luke6;24)
- It is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 19;24)
- …You cannot serve God and money (Matt 6; 24).
- · How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.( Luke 18:12 )
The Prosperity gospel teaches that you need material prosperity in your life. It doesn’t teach that primarily you need prosperity in your ‘spiritual’ life, which the Bible teaches. It is my strong conviction that the emergence and popularity of the gospel of prosperity today is by no means an accident.
Remember, the Bible tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and forces of darkness (Ephesians 6; 12). The prosperity gospel was designed to serve a real practical purpose. The real purpose of this gospel is to remove focus from the real matter of this world.
It is designed to overshadow the message of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The prominence given to it relegates the Second Coming of Christ to the peripheries. When was the last time you heard a speaker preach of the return of Christ?
The real message which the world needs urgently is the repentance and salvation of mankind. The wealth gospel is earthly-focused and makes the return of Christ a non event. Satan obviously has a field day to see Christians who are mindful of earthly riches, which Christ rejected.
The devil laughs with satisfaction to hear messages of earthly prosperity reverberating from Christian pulpits.
The spiritually enlightening story of the rich young ruler (Matt 19:22) was not accidentally put in the Bible. That story is well meant and sums up the case against the wealth gospel.
Christ knew human nature too well that once the pursuit of wealth becomes our goal in life then the devil has got us in his net just like the young ruler. Wealth is a god on its own. Christ would not have told the rich young man that it was impossible to serve God and money if money were not a master in its own right.
For example, if someone were to say, “A football player cannot register with both Arsenal and Chelsea.” That statement automatically tells you that both Arsenal and Chelsea are soccer teams. Christ wouldn’t have made the comparison between God and money if one of them where not a god.
Money is a master which demands to be served just like God. The rich young ruler had faithfully kept the Commandments but his heart was embedded on his wealth. He valued his wealth so much that he was willing to lose Christ for it. The point which Christ was making is this; you cannot serve God and money.
You will love one and hate the other. Prosperity preachers and seekers likewise are striving after material things of the world instead of God. The wealth gospel stands in stark contrast with Christ’s advice, “…a man’s life does not consist in his earthly possessions.”(Luke 12; 15)
Sadly, the peddlers of the gospel of prosperity remain headstrong urging millions of people into rejecting Christ’s counsel and courting destruction. They continue to teach that affluence is an indicator of godliness.
On the contrary, Christ was an embodiment of humility and he identified with the poor. He even had to make the point by being born of a poor carpenter yet he was God.
The most misleading and most mischievous belief to come out of the gospel of prosperity is the promise that being born again spells an end to poverty, pain, and suffering. Ever seen notices in the local press where people give testimonies that they were always sick and poor before they turned to Christ?
This belief is definitely not from God; at least not the God of the Bible. God never promised man that once they convert to Christianity they become immune to the sufferings of the present world. To the contrary, Paul’s conversion to Christianity marked the beginning of untold suffering for him.
Paul had enjoyed fame and belonged to the elite group which persecuted and prosecuted Christians. The very moment Paul turned to Christianity he was dogged by countless tragedies.
Reading through his horrible experiences in his letters, you will learn that: he was flogged countless times, fought wild beasts at Ephesus on his mission to spread the Word and endured inhuman jail conditions all because of Christ.
Paul is believed to have died in prison yet he stands as an iconic figure in Christianity. In fact, concerning those who flock to stadiums to preach and seek prosperity Paul left a message in one of his letters.
He wrote; “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”(1Timothy 6:9)
Any man who sets his eyes on the cross and commits to follow Christ will square with temptation and hardship. Christ admonished His disciples that“…If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first (John 15; 18).”
The false impression given by the prosperity gospel that this sinful world is our home where we ought to build mansions and drive obscenely expensive cars is an outright lie straight from the pit of hell. Jesus Christ himself endured excruciating pain in this world.
He had to endure the betrayal of friends and those he healed. If there was any Man who could have amassed wealth by use of miracles and attain earthly prosperity beyond measure that Man was none other than Jesus Christ. He could have led the way and enriched Himself as an example for His followers.
With an average of five thousand people following Him, He could have easily wrecked in thousands of dollars daily in offerings and buy all the gold of this world but did He? Today’s Christian ought to realize that there is a battle for the control of his mind that is going on.
This is the last hour. Take heed that no one deceives you.
Learnmore Zuze is a Zimbabwean author and writes in his own capacity.