A GREAT friend of mine once said, “if you get into a country where people wear shoes on the head, you will have an impossible time convincing them that shoes are for the feet’; this is ten times true of the situation obtaining in Christianity today. It has become a near-impossible task telling modern Christians that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about money and riches. There are born-again Christians who, today, have been made to believe that Christianity is another term for riches.
One of the foremost arguments put forward by proponents of the prosperity gospel is anchored in the belief that Jesus Christ taught more about money than anything else. Most of his parables, they argue, revolved around money and this premise is largely used as justification for teaching money doctrines in the church. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with the church or Christians becoming wealthy, there is total need for people to understand the essence of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Personally, I am a firm believer in the financial independence of Christians. Christians ought not to be dependent or beg from anyone. However, what I find appalling are attempts by prosperity teachers across the world to make riches the central message of the Gospel and going out of their way to twist every verse in the Bible to suit the pursuit of wealth.
Strenuous efforts have been made to paint the picture that poverty is demonic and that riches reflect blessings. This is an ugly lie because the Bible is awash with God’s people who lived in lack yet God extolled them. Remember the poor widow who put in coins where the rich put in thousands. Remember John the Baptist who lived in the wild and ate honey and locusts. Remember the disciples left by Jesus were described as ‘common men of no education.’ The point, though, is not to advocate for poverty but to urge a return to the basic tenets of Christianity.
While it is true that Jesus often spoke about money, there is one thing which prosperity preachers will not tell you; one thing that in itself defeats the justification for teaching wealth doctrines in the church. While it is true that Jesus spoke more about money, prosperity peddlers will not tell you whether Jesus spoke of money in the sense that it was something central to Christianity and worth pursuing for the Christian. An honest look at Jesus Christ’s teachings on money is the polar opposite of what prosperity teachers teach today.
The strongest evidence against the doctrine of possessions is given by Christ in Matthew. Jesus strikes a direct blow on the prosperity gospel when he says, “A man’s life does not consist in his possessions”. This is the polar opposite of the prosperity message where wealth indicates blessedness and poverty wretchedness. Throughout the synoptic Gospels, especially Matthew, Jesus warns his disciples of the love for money, citing that money often becomes an idol and an object of worship. He says:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
This was all by way of saying by focusing on wealth human nature will tend to be consumed in wealth and not focus on the true God. Also, When Jesus asked the rich young ruler to give up his riches and follow him, the rich young ruler “went away grieving, because he had many possessions” (Matt 19:22). Afterwards, Jesus told the disciples that “it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom” (Matt 19:23). Further, in the Parable of the Sower, some of the seed is choked out by the “cares of this world” and “deceitfulness of riches” (Matt 13:22). Judas, also, agrees to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matt 27:3-10).
I could go on and on with Christ’s views on money but the point is this: Jesus never taught that his Gospel would be a tool for amassing wealth. My dear friends, money, while being good to make life possible, should not be pivotal to the Gospel such that we have to devote hours teaching about it in the holy temple. The true Gospel has never been and will never be about wealth and material possessions. God is more concerned about the salvation of your soul. God requires obedience more than sacrifice. There is no point teaching a sin-burdened person week-in week-out about money when he is leading a sinful life. There are plenty examples of people in the Bible who walked away from the faith because of the love for money.
Finally, Jesus asks, “What shall it profit a man to get all the wealth and money of this world and yet lose his own soul?”