I was surfing the “God channels” on my TV a few weeks ago and after skipping through a couple of the regular faces, I ran into an individual I generally enjoy, and though I only caught a snippet of what was said, John 10:10 was mentioned, followed by some pretty heavy prosperity doctrine.
Here is the verse in several translations:
NIV: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Message: “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
NKJ: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
The last version was the one used.
I have taken the time recently to listen to some of this theology (names like Dollar, Meyer, White, Roberts, and Robertson (I love how some of their websites are .org)) I would like to pose the question, Is Jesus saying that if we follow Him, we will have “life abundantly,” or “lifestyle abundantly?”
The consensus I have come to is that these individuals are teaching “lifestyle abundantly.”
Honestly, I’m glad they have succeeded in making some money, and I would say they are definitely gifted fund raisers, but do they honestly believe that is what God wants for his people? Is it wrong for followers of Christ to have wealth? By no means do I believe that. I just think that these preachers (as well as parishioners) need to be more prudent in explaining that in the Bible, God’s blessing is not equal to an overflowing checkbook.
Looking in the Old Testament, you can clearly see that one sign of God’s blessing is wealth. The short list contains Abraham, Job, David, and Solomon, who all had wealth that few today have achieved. But it is just as clear that wealth does not always follow a faithful servant of God. I think this list is just as long, including most of the prophets and disciples. Clearly individuals like Elijah, John the Baptist, Peter, and John the Beloved were following the ways of God, yet their life in no way reflects this monetary blessing. I still believe however that they did have the “abundant life” that Jesus says will follow his disciples.
With titles like 8 Steps to Create the Life You Want, Your Best Life Now, Total Life Prosperity, Miracle of Seed Faith, and Rich Church Poor Church it’s pretty clear the message that is being sent. Why they are pushing this agenda for personal gain, or out of a misinterpretation of what Jesus says of abundant life, I am not sure of their motivation. God alone knows their heart. But it is clear that they need to bring some balance to the message.
I don’t believe it is wrong for Christians to have wealth, but don’t let it be your ambition. Seek God first, and He will provide your needs.
And unless it wasn’t already obvious to you, sending some minister on TV your first paycheck of the month, sowing a seed of $500, and becoming a “Gold Member” of someone’s ministry will not guarantee you any sort of return or Godly influx of cash. Listening to the Father and obeying Him will however keep you in His blessing, and I am sure that whatever He decides your blessing will be is worth it.
Lastly, Abraham first left all, Job first lost all, David first suffered all, and Solomon, well you can read Ecclesiastes to know his thoughts on wealth.