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Emails to God – Debating Prosperity Gospel (Matthew 8:14-22)

16 Dec

14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities

and bore our diseases.”

18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Dear God, I got into an interesting conversation with a couple of pastors last night. There is a certain television pastor out there who I cannot stand because of his prosperity message. This came up during my conversation with them and, to my surprise, they started defending him. Really? This guy? Is there something in this guy I have missed? Is there are depth there I haven’t seen? I respect these two men and feel that they have earnest faith. How can they support what this guy preaches?

I kind of liken it to this passage. In my own theology of how you work, there are people you intended to be wealthy, people you intended not to be wealthy, and people you intended to be poor. It’s not fair. To our eyes, it can sometimes seem like there is no rhyme or reason to it. Young, good people die. Old, grouchy people live. Who can explain it? But I think that a lot of my feelings on the subject come back to passages like this.

People started following Jesus because they got excited about him. They were excited about the miracles and they wanted to be near the power. So when a teacher of the law (I actually never noticed before that this was a teacher of the law who was saying this) said he would follow Jesus anywhere, Jesus had a surprising response. The same for the other disciple—a very insensitive response. He was saying that there was going to be a cost for following Jesus. Material possessions and ease of life were not necessarily part of the deal. For some they might be. But for others they won’t be. Heck, look at John the Baptist. He was fulfilled spiritually, but he did not live an easy life, nor did he die an easy death.

Father, I hope I didn’t offend these men too much, but, I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it. I just don’t buy that you intended all of us who love you to live materially rewarded lives. The poor widow who Jesus saw put in her tiny offering went home poor and probably spent the rest of her life poor. That’s just how it is for some. They have a role to play. In her case, she is an example to me, and she never knew she would be. Help me to be willing to endure whatever it is you have for me to endure regardless of whether or not I see the purpose. And while I am thinking about it, for the wonderful blessings you give to me, including a good job and a healthy family, I thank you so much. You have been more than doubly good to me.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Matthew

 

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