"Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."
1 Timothy 6:5
I grew up in what skeptics call the prosperity Gospel and word of faith movement churches. It means any Christian group that believes in the doctrine that all Christians are rich and should enjoy all the good in the world. It also includes those who believe in 'speaking things into being'. Whatever you need, you just speak and it will become in Jesus name.
This form of teaching sprang up in the west (particularly the USA). It came into Africa shortly as the natural phenomenon follows with almost every other ideology. So from the skeptic's view, such a message could easily be popular in a part of the world where most people are assumed to be poor and the governments are in poor shape.
If Jesus can provide your next meal, or pay the bills etc it's not a bad idea to follow him. When one Especially considers the advent of supernatural occurrences in Christian circles in Africa even in a more fantastic fashion as was seen in the west. Jesus definitely was deemed more powerful than Juju. Jesus is also maybe less expensive than the Juju priest. It'd probably be easier to sow a seed than follow the tedious list of a Juju priest. Plus Jesus is safer, he doesn't strike people mad! For not following instructions. Jesus is definitely a better option for a better life. Hence the massive adoption of the prosperity Gospel in Africa (as stated earlier from a skeptic's view).
In recent times, due to the estimated massive wealth of some ministers and some churches in Africa. The prosperity Gospel is being frowned upon by a few. They hold onto verses like the one used at the beginning of this article.
The argument is this; Jesus didn't die so you you could pay your house rent, or drive a Bugatti, or live in mansion. He died for your sins and resurrected to give you a new life of righteousness and holiness, Nothing more. Any doctrine that speaks of having to give anything to receive a material blessing from God or even the belief that a Christian is entitled to an affluent Life, is considered heresy.
I'm a firm believer in the truth that the blessings in Christ are not just spiritual but indeed physical too and yes being a Christian does entitle one to a great Life (materially), but how does it work. Here's my argument against the prosperity Gospel that I believe in but has become distorted especially in Africa.
The major theif of God's greatest Blessings is the 'Give me more syndrome.'
How much more is enough and when will it be enough. If we keep trying to use our rights in Christ to gain the material When will we finally be satisfied and Inspite of the many blessings we could enjoy in Christ. If somehow we found ourselves poor, isolated, sick and at the point of death. Will the thought that Christ is in us be enough? Forgetting about how that should make us insist on being well. Just knowing that Christ dwells and resides in us, will that keep us satisfied? I believe if those who believe in a Prosperity Gospel haven't come to this point in their faith, they cannot truly enjoy prosperity and divine health, cause they'll always be in need of more. Hence the misunderstanding that has generated misguided teachings on ; 'double anointing', 'quadruple anointing: and 'increased Grace'. The 'Give me more syndrome' that's killing us on the inside.
The Gospel of trying to get something isn't the true prosperity Gospel. The true prosperity gospel is that Christ who ressurected from the death lives in me and irrespective of my physical, social and financial state that alone is my satisfaction. It's from this place of contentment that everything else needed in life will come from. Jesus didn't die to make us rich (Don't misinterpret 2 Corinthians 8:9). He died and resurrected to give us the life of God not so our bank account will be fat or someone could walk out of a wheel chair. He gave us his Life, so that we will be satisfied. Content. Finally at peace. When this happens, everything else comes!
Jesus said; ...I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst (John 6:35).
If after we have had a taste of the bread of life yet still within is the anxiety that comes with lack of physical things, or the fear that comes with terminal disease, then we are not fully satisfied. We might still be hungry and thirsty for more negating what Jesus said.
It's like a man who has a wife. When he first met her it's possible what he had was an attraction to her. She may have looked really beautiful and he fell instantly in love. In courtship he finds out more about her. He sees that she has perculiar personality qualities; she's kind, patient, hard working, intelligent etc. He then marries her. Later on, life happens and maybe she's developed a big belly and a puffy face and Just doesn't look as good as before, her personality still intact. Would that man leave his wife and seek someone else who can appease his eyes. If he does then he has reduced his wife to nothing but a beautiful face and a Great body, hence his main reason for marrying her.
This is what many have done to Christ. Jesus is their meal ticket. He's their shoulder to cry on when they are heart broken. He's the one they run to when they have problems. All these things are great and very important but they should be the fruit of contentment, a satisfaction that exists in the minds of those whose peace of mind isn't circumstancial because Christ is in them. That man if he chose to stay and not leave his wife, if asked, he probably wouldn't mind if his wife was a beautiful as before, but that doesn't change the way he loves her one bit. He's content with what she looks like because of who she is.
“Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well."
Matthew 6:31-33 WEB
In the past my understanding of this verse was that if I would put my money into a seed or giving in church, then God will multiply the money and give it back to me or all the stuff I need will come to me cause I gave. Studying the Gospels in context, I discovered that's not what this verse meant. The kingdom as Paul described is seen here; For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17)
Are we after righteousness? Are we after peace? (Inner assurance that inspite of whatever, Christ in us is the hope of Glory), Are we after Joy in the holy ghost (exuberant Happiness that becomes contagious and is independent of circumstances).
If in the poverty we would still praise God genuinely without trying to stimulate him to solve our problems. If in that sickness we could still read his word and believe what he says wether or not it has to do with our health. If in that place of isolation where it seems no one wants us, we still felt that the presence of the Holy spirit meant something. That's the place where the best things in life, that are only accessible to Christians, reside. That's the place of contentment and that's where Jesus said all the things the gentiles seek will come to you naturally. When we have perfected these things, putting our faith to work in sorting whatever challenge we face in life, will take on a whole new meaning. There will be a different perspective, there will be a calmness. Desperation to get out of that situation will not be there because we were not desparate in the first place. Faith fueled by fear and anxiety will cease and then we can really have what Paul calls; faith which worketh by love Galatian 5:6.