Monday, March 4, 2013

What The Prodigal Son Can Teach Us About The Prosperity Gospel

The prosperity gospel is no gospel at all. It teaches that we can ask God for anything we want especially material wealth. Isn't that exactly how the parable of the Prodigal Son begins?

“There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. (Luke 15:11-12)

The prodigal was a spoiled brat. He wanted it all now. And he got it. But he also lost it. This is where "he came to himself". (v. 17) His eyes were opened to his plight that he made himself. He resolved to turn back (repent) to his father. But he did not go back asking for what he had already gotten but with the resolve to be a servant in his father's household. Yes, his father met him along the way but he never forgot to state the reality of his sin, "I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” (V.21) Now many of us remember the rest of the story and that was the younger son received his father's robe and his ring. These were signs of his relationship with his father. With his inheritance spent, the father had that much less money and land to give him. All he had was the sign of his patrimony. And the love of his father.

As with all parables, this is a story of us and our relationship with God. It is about how we are far away from God but are on a journey home. This is usually after we come to ourselves and see that left to our own devices, we can only make a pigsty for ourselves. (v.15) But the prosperity gospel is a false gospel that says God wants us to have it all now. In other words, don't repent of being spoiled brats. It's a gospel that ignores the third chapter of Genesis. Adam and Eve, God's first children, had it all. A garden to frolic in! They had only one command and that was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But that wasn't good enough. They wanted more. And east of Eden they were banished. (Gen. 3:1-24) And eventually we got more commandments because we never learned what was right on our own because we armed ourselves with the knowledge of evil. But the last of the big ten was "Thou shalt not covet." Adherents of the prosperity gospel covet what they do not have. They want more like the prodigal son. They are not content with their Father in Heaven's blessing. And if you are not content you are a spoiled brat. Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread. Sometimes the answer to that prayer from God is something like, "Here, let me open your eyes so you can see what I have given you today!" Scripture admonishes us to be content with what we have. (Heb. 13:5) After all, our good Father knows what we need! It is the false gospel of prosperity preaching that leaves us as spoiled brats wanting more. And the judgment is the pigsties we are willing to build for ourselves!