A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

Which Gospel: Prosperity or Poverty?

Our lives aren’t all about money, but money touches almost every part of our lives. When you are a follower of Jesus, that’s especially true, and it’s important to take the time to learn what the Bible says about money.

Fortunately, that isn’t that hard to do. The Bible has a lot to say about money. Its pages cover working, and earning, and saving, and giving, and poverty, and debt, and etc. ad nauseum. You can learn a whole lot about money by reading the Bible.

Unfortunately, all of these different scriptures have led to a couple of conflicting theological schools of thought when it comes to Christians and their finances. Each have their standard bearers, and each have their critics. So, which is right?

Why don’t we start with a vague summary of each:

The Prosperity Gospel

This school of thought is shaped around the idea that God provides material prosperity for those he favors. Thus, if you are truly obedient to the Lord, you will be rewarded with growing wealth.  If you have wealth, you’ve pleased God and have been blessed by him. Paying tithes consistently and giving a big offering with the right heart always results in a greater material return.

Godliness and righteousness in life can be gauged through prosperity.

…or…

The Poverty Gospel 

According to this school of thought, poverty is required to experience true discipleship and sanctification. At best, wealth provides too much autonomy, and keeps the holder from experiencing true humility and dependence on God’s provision. At worst, it is sin, the result of selfishness and greed. To be truly obedient to the Lord, you must give up everything you own and live as simply and humbly as possible.

Godliness and righteousness in life can be gauged through poverty.

So, which is it?

The first ‘gospel’ has the benefit of synchronizing well with the “American Dream” that our culture idealizes. The second ‘gospel’ benefits similarly, though, as the very rich in America have been raised up as evil icons of a corrupt culture. We can look at Donald Trump and Mother Teresa and make a snap judgment about which is more holy. At the same time, everyday wealth is best gained through hard work, diligence, and living frugally, and those aren’t the bad qualities to have.

Which is it? Is God blessing the prosperous or the impoverished?

Why not both?

Why not neither?

The biggest problem with these two theologies is that they’re using finances as a sure measure of spirituality, and reality doesn’t match up. There are too many counter-examples to each of these ideas in the Bible, let alone the real world. God has called people to serve him from prosperity and poverty.

After all, none of our wealth is actually ours. It’s all been given to us. Whether we’ve been given a little or a lot, we’re called to manage it well, and use it to please God. Both prosperity and poverty are a gift from God to be used for his glory.

What do you think? Is it better to prosper or be poor? Which draws you closer to God?

April 4, 2013 Posted by | Christ and Church, Work and Money | , , , , , | Comments Off on Which Gospel: Prosperity or Poverty?

Quick Hits of the Week

  • Being a politically active Christian can equal an open door to some of the worst kinds of sin. Not worst because they’re extra grotesque or heinous, but because they’re the ones that are pernicious and go unchallenged. “Not only are believers excused for their political indiscretions, but they are often applauded for committing them.” It’s time for us to stop living the lie that every Christian follows one political party. We each have been formed differently and are moved by different kinds of pain and injustice. We should each follow those ways that God has called us, while finding common ground with each other in the church.
  • Bicycles became popular after the automobile did. That seems backwards (as simple, man powered locomotion should have preceded the complex combustion engine) until you realize that for bicycles to be popular they need smooth roads and inflated rubber tires, both of which were brought on by the advent of the automotive age. The lesson is that inventions and innovation become accepted and popular spontaneously, when the world is ready for them. We shouldn’t look for inventions before their time. What does that say about new energy technologies?

Is there something valuable or important or cool or funny or weird or awesome out there I missed this week? I can’t hit it all, but you should let me know about it by dropping me a line or sharing it in the comments below! I’d appreciate the heads up.

September 20, 2012 Posted by | Quick Hits and Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Quick Hits of the Week

Quick Hits of the Week

  • Over at Michael Hyatt’s blog, Russ Crosson guest posts an interesting question: What would extending your retirement plans make possible? We sort of take for granted that sixty-five equals retirement in this country, but that’s not necessarily going to hold true forever, and it probably shouldn’t. Besides, if you’re doing work that you love (And if you’re not, why not?) why would you want to stop just because you’ve reached some arbitrary age?
  • So, Dan Pearce of Single Dad Laughing has penned a very heartfelt rant about religion, love, sin, and judgement. There are points that he makes that I don’t agree with (sin isn’t a personal thing, at all) but I completely agree with the spirit of what he is saying. As a Christian, love is how I’m called, by Jesus, to live. Even if you’re gay. He even calls Christians to love their enemies.
    I’m going to climb up on my soapbox for a second. Why do we expect people who haven’t chosen to follow Jesus to all behave like Christians? Especially when we don’t? And more importantly, why do we keep passing laws to force them (ultimately at gunpoint) to act the way we believe? Do we really think we can bring them to the cross through legislation?  How arrogant of us. So, I don’t vote “Christian values” anymore. I just do my best to live them with mercy, humility, and love.
    I hope that Dan’s friend Jacob would feel welcome at my church. I hope that we’d love and welcome him.
  • I’m a huge fan of the work Lenore Skenazy does over at Free-Range Kids. I don’t know if it’s the fear of litigation, or ever-present (but hardly realized) stranger danger that drives our culture to extreme risk-avoidance, but it concerns me. It’s not healthy to constantly take precautions against what might occur. For example, just in time for Easter: Beware of Palm Sunday.

April 5, 2012 Posted by | Quick Hits and Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Quick Hits of the Week