Thursday, March 14, 2013

What The Rich Young Man Can Teach Us About The Prosperity Gospel

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. ( Mark 10:21-22)

There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. It is a gift from God! (Eccl. 5:19) There is a lot wrong with coveting what you don't have. It shows you are not content with what God has given you. (Heb. 13:5)

If we come to Jesus wanting what we don't have we begin our relationship with Him out of desire to consummate our sin. And God is not the cause of our sin. And God will surely let us down if He does not give us what we want. And so we will not find contentment. Contentment is for the here and now. Paul discovered contentment before his death. (Phil. 4:10-12) But he did not run up to Jesus asking about eternal life. He may have run into Him on the road to Damascus but that was not his intention. I am quite sure that if Jesus came to him and said something like, "Hey Saul, I know you hate me but that's okay, I want you to spread my message to the Gentiles. Yeah, those people who can't keep their you know what in their pants and eat pork. Oh and by the way, you're going to spend a lot of time in jail, hungry and those wounds from your whippings will heal over time!" In other words, following Jesus has a price to pay, not a want to be gained!

And so the rich young man ran to Jesus kneeling asking what to do for eternal life. Jesus rehearses a portion of the 10 Commandments, the ones on how to treat his fellow man. When he confirms he has met these requirements, we do not hear a rebuke from Jesus, like, "Liar, liar pants on fire!" So he probably did keep these commandments. It was the ones that Jesus did not mention that will trip him up. It was the Tenth Commandment that was not mentioned. You know, Thou shalt not covet!" (Ex. 20:17) And for good measure let's throw in the First Commandment, "Thou shall have no other gods before me!" (Ex. 20:3) After all, Paul does equate covetousness with idolatry. (Col. 3:5) And so the man who was already rich could not part with his treasures. In his heart, they were indeed greater than what Jesus could give him. His wealth was his idol.

For most people who chase after the prosperity gospel and those who preach it, they are not content with what God has already given them. But they are chasing after an idol. An image they have created out of their hearts. And it is this desire, this idol, that will be evidence on the day of judgment.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”  And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Let us put our relationship to Jesus first never asking, "What's in it for me?" Be content with what you have . After all, God thinks it's enough! And it can be used for His glory. And if He gives you more, say, "Thank you!" You see, Jesus gave His spotless life for us. What can we give Him? (Mt. 8:18-22)