Day 238 – The Prosperity Gospel

Today’s reading: Luke 12:1-31

Today we read Jesus’ telling the parable of the rich fool.  The parable is an excellent refutation of the prosperity gospel preached by a variety of “mega-church” pastors.  Here is the parable:

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21

The meaning of the parable is fairly straightforward.  The rich fool takes his good fortune and read too much into it.  He doesn’t keep vigilant, rather he lets his soul “relax, eat, drink, be merry”.  When that happens he is “not rich toward God” and that is when his soul is required of him.  However, the passage goes on to immediately suggest that we are not to worry because God will provide for our needs.

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! Luke 12:22-24

So how are these two passages, one telling us not to care about material things and the next telling us God will provide for our material needs, to be reconciled?  God provides us with a simple and clear answer:

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Luke 12:29-31

So, its really about our internal disposition.  In the prosperity Gospel, people are often praying for things.  Jesus says to seek the kingdom and your need will be met.  Jesus doesn’t say you will receive material abundance but that is understandable.  In Jesus’ mind, to have enough to meet your material needs and to have the kingdom, then one would have more than all the material abundance of the whole world.

Tomorrow: Luke 12:32-59

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