En route to an income with six zero's
Christians know God's commandments are good for the whole of life. And therefore also for the economic life.
In this section the second and third commandment:
“....no other gods .....not make yourself an idol....not bow down to them.....”
Last year George Adams lost his job. He went to the mega church of Joel Osteen hoping the tv-minister would be able to put him back on the road to success. Osteen preaches that God wants his children to be wealthy. Inspired Adams went to work at a car dealership an became a successful salesman.
" This is what God has in mind for me, I am on my way to an income with six zero's."
A typical example of someone who creates his own god images? Or maybe even more: using God's name in vain for economic gain?
Some time ago Time Magazine wrote extensively about the return of the prosperity gospel. He who believes seriously, will be blessed with health,money and goods, is what this prosperity gospel teaches. And if you give royally and with a grateful heart to Christian organizations, than God will pay you back royally. No longer is this gospel popular only in charismatic-evangelical circles, also traditional protestants are often into it, asserts Time, which reported on the experience of George Adams.
61% of Americans believe that it is God's will that believers are prospering.
Broke and Ugly
"Who wants to believe in something for which you first have to be bad, poor, destitute, broke and ugly, and have to plod and struggle along all your life, before you can go to heaven?" asks prosperity evangelist Joyce Meyer in Time. "I believe that God wants to give us good things, nice things"
Success in job, profession or trade is for prosperity evangelists a sign that God's blessings are on it. The histories of Abraham and Job, men who were blessed with great wealth, are embraced in these circles. Popular is also Proverbs 12 vs.21: " The just will be shielded from tragedy"
And to show the causal relationship between generosity and wealth, 2 Cor.9 is used: "Know this, he who sows sparingly, will harvest sparingly; he who sows generously, shall harvest generously."
In the past years 1 Chron. 4 has become the ammunition of the prosperity evangelists. In that Bible passage a certain Jabez prays to God : "Bless me: enlarge my property and protect me from evil, that I may not suffer pain." And the Lord gave it to him, it says there.
In his book : The Prayer of Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson concludes that God has a lot of prosperity in mind for us. But we do have to ask him for it, otherwise he cannot hand it out. " If Jabez would have worked on Wall Street", Wilkinson writes in his book, " he probably would have prayed: "Lord enlarge the value of my investments."
He encourages christian managers and entrepreneurs to ask God for a larger revenue, more business. "If you lead your business in God's way.... then He expects that from you. He wants you to use your business to show something of his greatness to the people that you meet.."
The Dutch Reformed minister J.C. Schaeffer finds this reasoning quite scary and wrote about this in the church publication of his congregation.
Wilkinson makes a very easy ( cheap?) connection between prayer and economic prosperity, says the minister, who thinks Wilkinson's way of reasoning completely at odds with the third commandment. "He talks about capital growth without, for instance, putting it in a frame work of helping others. And he offers a God given guarantee."
Stories about wealth in the Bible say nothing about God's wish that He wants his children to be wealthy in this life, according to Schaeffer."Think of Psalm 73 in which somebody with great faith speaks about immense misery in which he finds himself. The prosperity gospel's view of God's intentions and plans for his children appears highly questionable. He does look after his children, but at the same time there can be occurrence of all sorts of trouble. In his name you may expect blessings, but this may not be the same as success. As if God's greatness can only be shown in our wealth and successes. Things will be alright, but not necessarily the way we expect it, nor when we expect it, or even in this life.”
Staring ourselves blind on the prosperity gospel and not realizing that the Bible also shows people who grow spiritually through adversity, can seriously affect our belief in a just God even jeopardize our whole belief.
In Africa and South-America several evangelical churches owe their growth partly to this prosperity belief, but the British author Philip Yancey knows the flip side of it;
" Many people attracted to the church, leave again through the back door, when they discover that they're not immune against suffering and financial problems."
Also in the US, where this originates, is there criticism. The idea that God wants his children to be rich, is nonsense , says Baptist preacher Rick Warren in Time. "I can show millions of believers who live in poverty". God is not to be molded after an image we have of him. Just as he won't pull the cart with our ideas.
Yet prosperity evangelist Joel Osteen enjoys a tremendous popularity.
Because he tells people what they want to hear?
The worst is, according to someone else, that people who accept Osteen's storyline and who will most likely be hit hard emotionally as well as financially, are going to be disillusioned about God.
Or they may blame themselves for a lack of faith, or they may think they are being punished for something they did wrong in the past.
Should they be disillusioned about God?
So..... who is right..?... who is wrong...?
Does God want us to be rich? Does God want anything for us?
What do we mean when we say : “God wants us to be rich.... wants us to be happy......?”
What do we mean by rich? Be honest... more often than not we mean having a lot of money.
Remember how we started... “ I am the Lord your God who set you free........ led you out of slavery...”
The crucial question of course is : How do we stay free? How do we prevent becoming enslaved again.?
The second and third commandment both are quite blunt : no other gods...not bow down.... etc.