10.21.2006

This is not the Gospel

Several days ago, I was flipping through TV channels late one night, and I stopped to listen to televangelist Mike Murdock. I had never heard of him, but there wasn’t really anything on TV and I thought he had an intriguing voice, so I stopped to listen to him.

Now at this point, I’ll admit that I don’t usually watch televangelists, and didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that he claimed to be a Christian of some sort, and so I expected his message to be about, well, Christ.

Yeah, not so much. I listened to him for several minutes, but his message didn’t focus on telling others about Jesus, or the problem of sin, or even any doctrinal issue. Instead, he talked about money. See, according to Mr. Murdock, God intends for His people to be financially prosperous in this life.

I kept expecting him to qualify his message by adding that while being wealthy might be a great blessing from God, this life and material possessions were not what was really important.

But he never did. Instead, he went on to basically guarantee that anyone who had enough faith would be blessed with prosperity and riches.

All of this seemed a little crazy to me, but apparently this “Prosperity Gospel” message is pretty common among televangelists like Murdock, Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland.

I didn’t think too much about it until last week, when it was brought a little closer to home while I was at a luncheon for local ministers. An idea very similar to Mr. Murdock's was presented, but this time it was not by some unknown evangelist on late night TV; the guest speaker was from a church of Christ.

Though he called it by a different name and clothed it with quotes from Jesus and ideas from Proverbs, his message was the same: that God wants us to be happy now, and that by following principles from the Bible, we can be financially successful. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Before I give anyone the wrong impression, let me make a disclaimer: I do believe that God wants us to be happy (or at least, content) in this life, I don’t believe that it is wrong to be wealthy, and I believe that God blesses some people with the ability to make money easily. However, I don’t think that how much money we make is a big priority with God, and I think any teaching that says God wants us all to be wealthy and explains how to be so is completely wrong. It is not God's will that all Christians be rich.

Otherwise, Jesus wouldn’t have told His disciples in Matthew 19.23-24, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Jesus came to earth to bridge the gulf that sin had placed between God and man. As Christians, our job is to tell others about what Jesus did for us, and why.

It is not to unlock Biblical secrets on how to get rich quick or to tell people that if they will serve God, He will make them rich. This is not the Gospel.

2 comments:

Alex 11/2/06, 11:25 AM  

Allen and I often comment (quite sarcastically) that "Jesus died for you to be happy." That's just about the most dangerous thought pattern you can develop for your spirituality. I'm with you on this one.

Luke 11/20/06, 5:14 PM  

Alex,

Great to hear from you.

The scary thing is how popular this teaching is becoming throughout the "Christian" world, despite how it isn't Christ-like at all.

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