Update: I was on Sharon's blog and she had a post on tithing so I thought I'd bring this one back. Besides, I'm working on a new Friday's Top Ten and I'm not too interested what's going on in the world. I'm also in a nice debate on Rebecca's blog about movies. - Peace
There was a picture on the wall of my grandmother’s bedroom of a shoreline at dusk. In the sand there was a set of footprints in the sand. Superimposed in the picture was a poem call “Footprints”. I’m sure almost everyone is familiar with the poem. Basically, a man has a dream that he is walking with God on the beach and he turns to see the footprints in the sand. On several occasions, he notices that there is only one set of footprints. Those coincided with the times where he was at his lowest. The Lord explains that where he sees one set of footprints, those were the times that He carried him. The moral of the story, as my grandmother explained it to, is that we look to God to get us through our darkest moments.
Subsequent teaching from my grandmother taught me that we serve in such a way that our lives become a testimony. By being in the presence of the Lord, we find a way to walk through this life and conquer all obstacles that come before us. Whenever my grandmother was facing tough times, she would always recite the verse, “Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who has loved us.” So my basic Sunday school teaching came down to this: You thank God when things are good. You praise him when things are bad. And if there is anything that you need, you just wait on Him, because he will provide. In my youth, God was always referred to as though He was a loving father. So when did he become a vendor?
Many people today treat getting closer to God like going to Macy’s with a gift card. I was listening to Creflo Dollar one night and the man is a brilliant speaker. But I just wasn’t feeling him on some of the things he preaches. I had to go back and find the transcript to the sermon:
Now, last night we began to deal with the relationship between peace and prosperity, and we found out that the Hebrew word for "peace" is the word "shalom," and that word means "wholeness, completeness, nothing missing and nothing broken." And we read, and we'll look at it again tonight, it says "my soul is far from prosperity." Why? "Because my soul's far from peace because I forgot prosperity." We established last night that you are not whole until you get your money. Amen. AmenThis is what Creflo Dollar is about. But he is not the only one that preaches and believes this. I’ve heard many brothers speak on prosperity and how God didn’t intend for his followers to live without. The verse, “You have not because you ask not”, is the precursor for getting everything you want from God. In a sense, we have gone from servants to patrons, walking though the Lord’s house picking out the beautiful bounty deserved in return for believing in Him. I am no theologian, but with the verse, “So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do," I don't think the writer was talking about monetary prosperity, but this is the context in which he used it.
There are two versus in the Bible that I believe debunk all of the ‘get my goods from God’ movement.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Mathew 6:19-21
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Luke 9:23-25
At one point in his sermon he referred to Hebrew 11:1. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Which he interprets as meaning having faith means you can have anything you want; which goes back to the, “You have not because you ask not” verse. I know people that believe that prosperity is owed to them because of their faith.
My opinion is that these men have to preach this since they are taking the money from church coffers to finance their lavish lifestyles. It would be hard to tell the congregation to sacrifice when the preacher is jet-setting around the world and rolling in a $300,000 vehicle.
Now the Lord knows I could use some extra money in my life. Considering the cost of housing in LA, I could use a couple of million in the bank. If God paid for conversation with him, I should have at least earned a BMW Five Series by now. And according to men like Creflo Dollar, I don’t have these things because I’m not close enough to God. Well, I was taught that you can’t just do good deeds and get into heaven and you certainly can’t buy your way there. So, I highly doubt that God is in the business of purchasing our faith. There are a lot of people in church waiting for the Lord to give them the riches of the earth in exchange for their praise. Heck, He gave us His son… you would think that would be enough. Go figure.