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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Preaching the “Prosperity Gospel” to the Homeless?

Recently, Associated Press religion writer, Eric Gorski reported a story about a generous Christian by the name of Cindy Fleenor. Each night she invited into her living room television preachers that told her, “Be faithful in how you live and how you give; God will shower you with material riches.” And so the 53-year-old accountant pledged $100s a year to evangelist Joyce Meyer, to faith healer Benny Hinn and a local Tampa, Florida preacher. The blessings never came. Fleenor ended up borrowing money from friends and from payday loan companies just to buy groceries.

Eric Gorski reports that all the ministries mentioned here are among six major Christian television outreaches under scrutiny by Senator Charles Grassley. The probe is essentially calling into question those who preach the "Gospel of Prosperity," or the notion that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches. Some argue that “prosperity preaching” is a Biblically sound message. Others say it is a distortion of the truth. It has evolved from "it's all right to make money" to it's all right for the pastor to drive a Bentley, live in an oceanside home and travel by private jet.

Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagin — and later, Kenneth Copeland — trained tens of thousands of evangelists with a message that resonated with an emerging middle class, said David Edwin Harrell Jr., a Roberts biographer. Copeland is among those now being investigated. The teachings took on various names — "Name It and Claim It," "Word of Faith," and “the Prosperity Gospel.”

But would the “Prosperity Gospel” work, say for the 74,000 homeless living in Los Angeles, many of them Christians? There is no doubt that God wants to bless his followers. Jesus however, describes the nature of our blessings when he says, “Blessed are the merciful, they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) When we are patient, kind, loving, forgiving, giving and merciful to the poor, the criminal, the orphan and the widow – we confirm God’s generous mercy upon ourselves by receiving His free gift of eternal life that we do not deserve. We get to go to heaven by God’s mercy! Heaven and eternal life are the blessings and riches that God has promised each of us.

When Jesus developed his preaching of compassion for the poor, there is no doubt he was acutely aware of the piercing Old Testament scripture of Proverbs 14:21 which says, "Anyone who despises his [poor] neighbor commits sin. But blessed is the person who is kind to the poor." Our blessings are eternal and spiritual – the best type – they are better than money! John tells us, “We know that we have passed from death into life because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3:14)

When we give alms, show mercy, love and kindness to the poor and homeless, we have an opportunity to confirm God’s gift of eternal life. His blessings therefore are not temporal, but spiritual - the reward of eternal life with God the Father, our Creator. We don’t go to hell as each one deserves. Christ blesses us with adoption as sons of God. (Galatians 4:5) And so we discover that there are blessings for giving out of love, but it more than likely will not be a new car or winning the million dollar lottery.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I sold everything I have of value, quite my job, and live by faith daily with my wife and special needs son to do what Christ has called all of us to do. Are you always willing to go the extra mile for others is it a inconvenience or do you consider it to be a divine appointment? It is through our generosity and love that many eventually see the face of God? We have received a divine calling (Eph. 4:1). Let us be His witnesses to the ends of the earth, being empowered by the indwelling of his Holy Spirit
In Matt 5:16 he states,” In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven.” We are a people called and EMPOWERED to make a difference. The world must see our faith in action. I ask you is the full effect of a person’s faith revealed in one’s words or in one’s actions? As James articulated, faith unaccompanied by action is dead. It is revealed and made complete by what we do. To be an effective Christians, our faith must be consistent, communicable, and convicting. In the absence of a bible under our arms and wearing a Christian shirt, it should be clear to the world, wherever we go and whatever we do, that we are ambassadors for Christ. I want to ask you, ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE? I want to implore you to NOT major in the minors! Paul states, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith”. We have given away over 11,000 pounds of food away so far in 2009, 200 sets of clothing to those families and children in need and two motor homes for families living in the streets. We live in the world but are not to part of this world, set apart, what we have we give freely empowering those in need and not enabling them. You can't outgive God and what we have is entirely on loan from him. Do we struggle with fiance's, absolutely but God is faithful daily, this year is the 5th year we have lived by faith (the evidence of things not seen) and we continue to give to those in need daily. We now have a thrift store which we do our outreach through (and NO we draw no salary or renumeration) to glorify what God bless's us with through his mercy and grace. The Bible clearly states, "He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy." Proverbs 14:21
"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Proverbs 14:31
"If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered." Proverbs 21:13
"A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor." Proverbs 22:9
"He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses." Proverbs 28:27
I pray that for those who claim a postion of leadership in the kingdom and yet want for nothing, where is your love? What to you is the only true religion? Where is your heart and treaure? I need you to call me meet with me and I want to introduce you to my Jesus!!!!!!!!!
Douglas Campbell
Oceanside, CA