Hope Exploited

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Prosperity Gospel, health and wealth, name it and claim it, and even the Prayer of Jabez. All things bordering on heresy, but all showing a strong following. If they are so wrong indeed, then why do so many give it credence. After some thought, I do believe it is because it taps into one of our God-given characteristics. We are nothing if not a hopeful lot. Hope, we are tenacious and resilient because of it. Many Science fiction and fantasy story traditions have ridden on the concept of the one unique characteristic of humanity is hope, and the tenacity that is born out of that. But that hope, that blessed bulwark against doubt, makes us also vulnerable to that pie in the sky, good things are coming our way message so often preached from the prosperity pulpit., That message reaches down inside of us and resonates with our hope. Untempered by wisdom though, it will carry us away and drown us in a pool of foolishness.

God does enjoy blessing us and rewards are promised us, if not always temporally obvious. We don’t want to ignore the positive out workings of a righteous life. We also cannot ignore the myriad of times that we are warned or even promised that we will go through suffering for Christ’s sake. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 5:10, Romans 8:18, Revelation 21:4, John 16:33, 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, Isaiah 43:2, 2 Timothy 3:12, Psalm 34:19, there are many more, but I cut it off here) Scripture is rife with admonishment to believers to be prepared for, to glory in, and to expect stormy seas. The New Testament speaks to doctrine and life application in regards to it, and the Old Testament gives us story after narrative story of the people of God struggling through their own storms.

So, even though the prosperity gospel models strike chords in our yearning hearts of Christian Hope, we must recenter our understanding and temper these huge promises with a realistic and wise understanding of the preparation that God expects of us. We are pilgrims and the journey will be perilous. Beware.

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