Friday, August 29, 2014

Why the "Favor of God" is killing the theology of Americans and destroying our witness in the world.

So, before you de-friend me on Facebook, can we just for a minute, re-examine our understanding of who God is, and why God's plan does not necessarily equate to receiving the "American Dream" (a great job, family, and prosperity).

There is a whole theology around "prosperity" and God's favor, that is leading to ideas about what God owe's Americans because we are "His Children", and I'm worried it's killing our American witness to the Gospel...and I get it, I've got four kids of my own, and I love "blessing" them, and I "delight" in them, and I absolutely want to give them things, my entire inheritance is theirs...but as I read the scriptures, especially the early church, and look around the world...if the "Favor of God" is about what I get as a consumer, then I've got a bevy of questions;

If the favor of God is about prosperity and blessing...Why do 1 in 5 kids around the world still not have safe water to drink?  Why are 1 in 3 kids still with out adequate shelter?  Why do 22,000 children die PER DAY because of poverty?  Why do well over 1 billion people live on less than $1.25 per day?  Isn't God about "blessing" and "giving"? 

I bet there are thousands of women and children held captive in the atrocity of slavery, just waiting for the "Favor of God" in the same way you proclaimed "God's Favor" shining upon you when the front row parking stall opened up at Forever 21. #Godsfavor  

Because here's the deal friends...God's favor is not about us, it's about God.  If we are blessed, it's so that we can be a blessing to others (maybe a re-reading of Genesis is in order?)  Sorry Joel and Victoria Olsteen...I know you think God is your own personal vending machine, who is just waiting to bless you, like a cosmic Santa Claus, but the truth is we exist for God's glory, God doesn't exist for ours.

A few months ago, I came across an article that really challenged this idea for me and I'm worried our Gospel witness will be become compromised, if we think God is only about "blessing" us.  Here's a quote from the article that I found profoundly helpful;

"The truth is, I have no idea why I was born where I was or why I have the opportunity I have. It's beyond comprehension. But I certainly don't believe God has chosen me above others because of the veracity of my prayers or the depth of my faith. Still, if I take advantage of the opportunities set before me, a comfortable life may come my way. It's not guaranteed. But if it does happen, I don't believe Jesus will call me blessed.

He will call me "burdened."

He will ask,

"What will you do with it?"

"Will you use it for yourself?"

"Will you use it to help?"

"Will you hold it close for comfort?"

"Will you share it?"

Here's a link to the article if you'd like to read it.

Is it possible that our American Dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has crept into our understanding of the Gospel...if you want to get rich, go for it.  If you want to feel blessed, proclaim it.  If you want others to know you are grateful for who God is in your life...brilliant.  But can we be careful how we make blanket generalizations about how God operates in a broken and hurting world?  People don't need more things or a higher net worth...they need hope. And joy. And purpose....I think Rick Warren said it well in an interview about the purpose of life when he said,

"...God is more interested in your character, than your comfort."