Feb 08 2011

“Prosperity gospel” for Christian institutions? Part 2

The previous post in this series is here, and will help provide background for what follows.

There are many instances of people and groups who take risks for the gospel, do the unpopular thing, and God does bless them. But obvious worldly blessing is not a given. God has His own agenda and ways of doing things, and we cannot assume that our worldly success is due to God’s blessing, nor our difficulties evidence of our failure to seek God’s will and do it. Some missionaries are murdered, and martyrdom in Christ’s service did not end with the fall of the Roman Empire. Lesser difficulties also occur with some regularity, even in the modern world.

Yet how many boards and leaders of churches and para-church organizations proceed with the assumption that apparent worldly or financial success equals God’s blessing, with such a rigid conflation of the two that any policy which carries some attendant risk of worldly disapproval is assumed to be the wrong one? Consider the logic: if we are doing good, God will bless us in worldly ways. Therefore, we should not consider doing something that risks getting worldly disapproval, since if the world disapproves, by our benighted definition, God is not blessing us.

So how can we decide if we are making our decisions according to God’s plan, from a fully Christian worldview, or if we are simply doing what seems best to us, within our human expertise (and afflicted with human pride and desire for power), as we try to strengthen our organization or institution in a worldly sense? There is no way to know for sure, of course….

But one thing seems indicative.

If we find we are mostly making decisions from the point of view of what the world will think of us (not from the point of view of God’s will, God’s commands, God’s moral precepts, and Christ within and among us), even if we have great institutional and public success, even if we are doing some good, we are not doing what God desires of us. Christ’s way is one of sacrifice and risk-taking for the sake of the gospel, most particularly the risk of being misunderstood and vilified by those who do not know Him. This is true whether we are explaining His way to the world, or standing for the principles He taught.

I’ll be developing this idea further in subsequent posts.

The next post in this series is here.

6 Responses to ““Prosperity gospel” for Christian institutions? Part 2”

  1. Anthony says:

    Well to learn Gods will the school, church, or whatever have to ask him. We assume he just doesn’t talk to us anymore but that’s just not true, he created us, he can get a point across if we ask. That does mean though that our religious organizations need to be submitted to his will. One who has worldly objectives that they want will seek the worlds approval and blessing. One who puts God’s goals first will seek his face both for guidance in the plan and comfort when the world rejects it.

  2. innermore says:

    I think it’s too prideful to seek blessings in the first place, no matter from whom or what. One reason Jesus sacrificed was because he wanted us to love. Not because he wanted us to love him, necessarily.

    God’s will is the same freedom to do what you think is right as the freedom to admit you’re wrong. Doing what you think or hope will have God’s indicative blessing softly violates that freedom. (it doesn’t work that way buddy) You might end up Absolutely deniably wrong instead of admittably wrong. Perceived praise, especially God’s, is wonderful. But it certainly shouldn’t be a prime motivation for doing something, or the only clue on the path.

    “Institutional Christianity” was supposed to be an oxymoron. God’s greatest gift to the church is its worldly temporariness. Yet Christendom can’t accept it apparently. And we all know what eventually happens to expanding bubbles.

  3. tonedeaf says:

    The Bible is the ultimate authority on all things human. That’s a pretty bitter pill to swallow once you’ve actually read it. I’m convinced that very few professing Christians have actually done so (even if they claim they have). I also think it’s important to keep in mind that Satan has no use for Christian institutions and spends most of his time there.

  4. tonedeaf says:

    Maybe I should clarify; The pill is bitter in direct relation to one’s resistance to it.

  5. kdippre says:

    This issue has been around a long, long time. It seems that every church where we reside desires to be the biggest, the fanciest, the most diverse, the most exciting, the most innovative, the catchiest slogans and trends, etc…. Ultimately, what does all of this mean? The Crystal Cathedral went bankrupt, right?

  6. tonedeaf says:

    kdippre, you’ve said it all.

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