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01 October, 2014

The Damages of The Prosperity Gospel

Early in 2006 when I realized my life was falling apart, for a little while, I had a hard time sleeping. So, in the wee morning I caught a very popular television pastor talking about a subject that all of the sudden I felt I needed to hear. His message was about this prosperity gospel out there. I truly felt good about the whole message and it was very appealing to all my senses. This well-known pastor raised my hope to believe that God would truly come through for me financially if I believe.  He also made it sound like I was entitled to it all.
When you are not mature a mature Christian, you are in desperate need, you are   overwhelmed by trials and your shield is down, this prosperity gospel is truly easy to buy into. It sounds so good, so pleasing, and somehow you can easily convince yourself that you are not doing anything wrong. All of the sudden you feel this is a part of Christianity that you can live with.

The more life was hard on me, the more I needed to hear this pastor. I needed his messages to help me keep going. I needed him to convince me of my rights to expect certain things from God.   After a while, I could sense the Holy Spirit convicting me and caution me. He made it clear that this was not the path I should pursue and what I was hearing was totally out of context with what God wanted for us, His true heirs. I was extremely upset at the Holy Spirit and I fought Him. I could not understand the cruelty of Him taking away what gave me the strength to go through my trials while believing in God. So, I basically blamed Him for being a stumbling block. One of my biggest arguments was the fact that all of what this pastor was saying, is written in black and white in the Bible. So how could I be hurt by believing in God’s word? Why was the Spirit of God, robbing me of my hope and Joy? That was my attitude toward the Spirit’s conviction.

Since my situation was fairly urgent and things were getting from bad to worse for me, I had to come to terms with the fact that this prosperity thing was not happening to me or for me, even though I believe with all my heart. The funny thing is, this pastor, whether it was him or his wife that came on, they always had some CD or DVD to shove down gullible people’s throats in order to build their own prosperity.

Things have gotten so bad in a span of a few short months, that I suddenly felt the need to turn completely to God because I reached the bottom pit. But, before I turned to Him, I went through a bit of depression because He was not coming through for me. Only later on, as I got to know Him I realized how bad the prosperity Gospel can mislead people. I know first hand how deep it can grip your heart and lead people away from God and into bondage. The trap is easy because first of all, those words are written in the Bible and secondly, you are being told by someone who knows better than you, someone who is a leader. Of course your heart is more than willing to believe. It took me a long time to understand how the context was wrong and the prosperity gospel prays on Christians who lack true knowledge of God, people who are weak in their beliefs and people that are already burdened by life.

God had to undo the damage that was done in me even though I was exposed to it for a short period of time. One of the reasons that God holds us responsible for what we believe, is also because when we choose the wrong path, there is something within that tells us so, but we shut it down because we like the easy way. If we do not correct the path, we find ourselves so imbued in our wrong belief that no one can help us out. Worse than that, we shut the Spirit of God out and we have no idea that we have done so. Furthermore, the Bible tells us to ask for wisdom and it will be given to us.

In the end, God spent lots of time teaching me about the riches of heaven. I was amazed to see how rich I was in heaven because my father’s house lack nothing and all the precious gems can be found there. But, I also had to learn to come to terms with the fact that, being financially prosperous down here on earth, was not the goal at all. This does not mean that God cannot and will not make us rich financially because God give wealth to those He wants to. But, I also learned that I have no rights to tempt Him, or hold Him accountable because of His word. Most of all, I had to learn to be content with whatever decision He made about my life because failing to learn that, meant that I made salvation about me when in reality it is about God.  

As I was learning at His feet, He drew my attention to Paul, who was given a thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7 “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”  I had a hard time wrapping my head around it. God was patient and waited for me to understand and believe. My reasoning was “how on earth that God felt Paul would become conceited when in reality he lost it all to follow Christ. If you recall, Paul was a high profile man and well connected. Why then, losing it all to follow Christ could cause him to become conceited? Worse than that, why did he actually believe there was a reason for him to be conceited too? As God took me on the path of revelation and I started experiencing Him left, right and center, day in day out. I understood too. I had to learn to come to terms with the fact that I might be one of the richest people that exist on this earth. Even bigger than those who make the Forbes list. In fact, I know I am. But it means nothing to man. I also understood why Paul needed to be kept from being conceited, because when God reveals Himself to you so much, as a mere human, you do need to be kept humble for your own sake.

In Him, there is a richer life. None of us Christians, have the rights to seek for riches down here, when in reality we have not even scratched the surface of what salvation means to God, “not to us”. Focusing on money and earthly wealth can only take our focus off God because where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Do you want to know who you are and where your treasure is? Well, spend time, retrace yourself and see what occupies your mind the most during the day. Is it your portfolio? Your career? Your family? Your ministry? Some of you might say to me, well it is good to think about things like family and ministry all day long. Well, having been through it all, whatever occupies your mind is your first god, your idol, your master and your first love. God’s place has been usurped and you get it all backwards.

No matter what you are going through right now, His grace will always be sufficient to see you through whatever life’s circumstances you are in. Each trial we go through, is an opportunity to exchange it for a crown of glory in heaven. So, allow Him to transform you through the pain and suffering and you will see a depth of His grace and glory that is mind boggling. God cannot reveal to you what you are not ready to take in yet.