Monday, August 7, 2017

Prosperity Gospel

(Someone said that if a Martian landed here and listened to the talk and the debates they would think that rich people didn't have much money.)

I couldn't help but do a double-take when I saw this scene.  Shiny Mercedes with a tag on the front proclaiming: "Prayer Changes Things." I really guess it does when you are riding around in a Mercedes. God has blessed--and blessed with "more than this person could seek or ask." I think the word is abundantly.

Today we are awash in greed. This is nothing new for the United States. From our founders on being well-heeled opened a lot of doors. Nothing wrong with that--except on the outside of those doors stands most of the hurting people in the country and world. 80% of our stocks are owned by 8% of the population.

"We are blessed" is said over and over by those who have a great deal. Our President, living in what he calls a dump--the people's house--is a classic example of greed and narcissism. But it isn't fair just to pick on Trump--if Hillary had gotten elected what difference would it have made when it comes to this greed business.

I keep scratching my head about the Evangelicals who have jumped on the Trump bandwagon. His favorite preacher is some thrice-divorced blonde in Florida that says God wants everybody to be rich. She even had a prayer at the Inauguration. She and many of the other Evangelicals would not see any contradiction with a shiny Mercedes and a tag that proclaims: "Prayer changes things." Maybe prayer does not change things--but I still believe, on my better days, that prayer does work in people's lives. I've felt it's power working in my own life--and I have seen it work in the lives of many others--and some of them drove Mercedes too.

My problem is not with the Mercedes--but it is the idea that if you are rich God has poured out a special dose of his love and care on you. And in my book that is heresy. I also know a multitude of people that pray daily and are hanging on by their fingernails--sometimes financially--sometimes emotionally--sometimes spiritually. Money and Jesus don't really mix too much. Remember the rich young ruler. He went away sorrowful because he had great possessions. Remember the parable of the rich man and the poor man. Or remember the story of the Good Samaritan. Or Jesus' words: "To whom much is given--much shall be required."

It doesn't matter if you are rich if you can get outside the bubble and see how most of the world live. And in response give back. This is not as much a political issue as it is a theological issue. Even though our politics should be humane and express some kind of justice for all. This is why this health care debate will test our Christian faith and our belief in the "all-ness" of the gospel. Once again what we do will reflect the kind of people we really are. 

I came from the other side of the street. My family had no car--much less a Mercedes. I would have given anything just to have four wheels back then. Much of adult life has beset with old cars that broke down at the wrong times. This surely did not make me a saint. And coming from where I did--I confess that I do love my stuff. Beautiful house...two cars paid for. That never happened before. And I like my creature comforts. And like most of us I don't think nearly enough about: "the least of these."

But if prayer is to work and change anything in my life it is to keep me sensitive. To make sure I give back. And that I will continually long for the day when everybody, and I do mean everybody. "...will sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid..." (Micah 4.4) Reckon that applies to Mercedes' owners that have "Prayer Changes Things" emblazoned on their cars--you bet. Even them. Maybe especially them. But like Micah reminds us the word really is everybody.

--Roger Lovette /

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