For months, I have been plagued with the idea of writing a piece that focuses on why so many religious leaders are promoting the concept of prosperity in the form of materialism. You know what I referencing, we have all seen them on tv, heard them on the radio; we have even received their emails.
These religious leaders make promises on behalf of God, stating that if you do this (which usually involves giving them money or sowing seeds into their ministry), God will bless you. These same religious leaders also promote the idea that if one does not possess a great deal of worldly possessions, then they are truly not being blessed by God. Evidently,
they must have skipped right past first five books of the New Testament, which documents example after example of individuals leaving their wordly possessions and following Christ. For them, the blessing was in having the privilege to give up everything to follow Christ.
Unfortunately, in the church today, Bentleys, Lexus, Rolex, Gucci, and Prada are more revered names than Jesus, God, The Holy Spirit, the Crucifixion, Brotherly love, or the Resurrection.
I am a follower of Christ, so for me, the fact that our churches, especially our African-American churches are using the quantity of material goods
as a means of measuring God’s blessings on one’s life is extremely disturbing to me. True prosperity has nothing to do with what we possess materialistically. The secular world is beginning to realize this. That is the reason that so many of us that have served in corporate America, cultivating lucrative careers are walking away and finding our true destinies (prosperity) in simplistic lives as servants for others. We live out our destinies as educators, homemakers, nurses, etc.
Jesus said it best when a rich young man came to him, asking what must he do in order to gain eternal life. Jesus instructed him to give all that he had to the poor and come and follow him. The rich
young man refused and left Jesus’ presence. I wonder how many others have done the same thing? The bible says that, ” As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier
to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.” (Matthew 19:23-24)
So, it stands to reason that if anyone reads this passage, they must settle the question in their mind, soul, and spirit, what type of prosperity do I want, materialism or true prosperity of the spirit, mind, and soul that only
God, not things can give? Unfortunately, that question is not coming from many of our pulpits
today. Far too many religious leaders count on the marketing concept of “sow a seed, get blessed” for their own livelihoods. The reality is that many of our churches, especially our African-American mega-churches are mostly supported by lower class, single heads of households that are living from paycheck to paycheck. High gas prices take away from their food allowances. They have to choose between using monies to pay for a prescription
each month or paying their electric bill. Then we have the religious leaders that stand up in the pulpit every Sunday and say if you are struggling, you are not being blessed by God. This is so far from the truth. Once again, they must have skipped The Bible in its entirety if they promote this school of thought. Struggle is one of God’s most precious gifts to us in His effort to work His character out in us. Besides, the last time I checked, Jesus did not have matching “his” and “hers” Bentley’s, nor did He live in a gated community, nor did He employ a entire entourage of henchmen to “protect” Him from the people as though He were a celebrity. In fact, when His disciples tried to keep the people from Him, he rebuked them. I believe that God is very displeased with the state of our modern day churches under the leadership of our materialistic, corporate-minded, selfishly driven leaders. They do just enough in the community to say that they are doing something, but do not do enough to change the world as Jesus did and has called upon us to do. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it best when he said, “There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.” But they went on with the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest. Yes, I see the Church as the body of Christ. But, oh how we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists. We want to blame and criticize the nation’s leaders for the horrific disaster of Hurricane Katrina and for the millions of wasted resources on the Iraqi war. Yet we do not want to take accountability for thenfact that as the church, we did not and have not done all that we have been called to do. New Orleans has a church on almost every corner.Why could they have not organized to ensure that as many people were evacuate out of the city as possible during the hurricane? Why is it that we misappropriate millions of dollars, as churches to building shrines to ourselves, holding conference after conference, hosting concert after concert; knowing that true ministry takes place outside the church as Jesus advised? We are in no position to criticize Bush or anyone else. It would be nothing less than hypocrisy. It is time for a spiritual revolution regarding true prosperity. Unfortunately, it is clear that it cannot begin with our religious leaders. They are far too comfortable, passive, and out of touch with God’s true heart to lead the revolution, so it must begin with those of us that are in the trenches that understand that we get God to change the world, not to change our financial status.