Some thoughts on prosperity

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There’s an old saying that “even a stopped clock is right twice a day” and as a demonstration of that principle, we recently heard some long-overdue truth from a very unlikely source. I am speaking about a speech given last week by French President Emmanuel Macron, from whom I usually don’t expect much. But during his speech before his country’s parliament, he said among other things that “the age of abundance” which has characterized the last 70 years or so is over and that we can no longer take for granted things like cheap energy, endless natural resources, geopolitical peace and stability and the technological progress which allows so many people in this world to live peaceful, cheerful, relatively care-free lives.

In the middle of this truly remarkable speech, he said “Our way of life, the way of life we are used to, has a cost, and defending it will mean sacrifices. Our freedom, our future requires effort, cultural, technological, economic fights that we must lead. We will only win them through effort; no one will offer them to us on a plate.”

These words should have been included in the State of the Union speech of every American president for at least a generation, and echoed by leaders of every other country, corporation, school board and yes, even the churches all over what we used to call “the free world.” In terms of saving us from the catastrophe that we’re already more than a little bit into is concerned, it’s probably far too little, far too late for them to finally be spoken by the leader of a mid-sized Western power like France. But it was nice to hear them anyway, even if Macron’s motives and agenda are deeply problematic.

Now, if only a leading voice in the Body of Messiah would say these words.

Instead, so many of our “leaders” tell us that it is God’s will that we have “prosperity” and by that they mean money and the things money can buy. Many of these people even flaunt their private jets, luxury cars, mansions, etc. as proof that God loves them and approves of the false gospel they’re peddling.

The worst thing about the “Prosperity Gospel” is that it takes the focus off of a Believers love for God and desire to serve Him for the sake of an Eternal Kingdom and instead puts the focus on how much God will supposedly show us how much He loves us by showering us with money and material possessions in this mortal life. It makes people crave the comforts, conveniences and even luxuries of this life and want to hold on to them, ignoring spiritual matters and the lives they will lead in Eternity.

Issues surrounding money, charity, poverty and the relationship of these things to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ are explained in great depth in the New Testament, including by Jesus Himself. His words, and the passages that build on His teachings in the Apostolic Epistles, are so hopelessly unambiguous that the only explanation for the rise and continued popularity of so-called “prosperity” teachings among the Evangelical churches is that so many people in these churches either don’t read their Bibles much or they don’t understand what they’re reading and/or their pastors and teachers are leading them astray.

With all of that in mind, I can only thank God for sending (of all people!) Emmanuel Macron, to finally be the secular political leader to share some difficult, painful, yet undeniable truth with the common, ordinary people in his country (and by extension, the rest of us) about the real state of economic affairs in this world. Maybe if Macron is right and we are about to be plunged back into the kind of world where material abundance is rare and most people are forced to abandon the empty, vain hope that they’ve always put in their gold, cash, stocks, bonds, pensions, etc. that will finally motivate them to turn back to the God of the Bible and put their hope, trust and confidence in Him.

It’s certainly worth praying for.