I know what you’re thinking. Is such a question even necessary? Doesn’t God tell us in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”? That settles the case, doesn’t it? God said He wants us to prosper. Now, what’s left for us to talk about? Well, quite a bit actually, and a lot of it depends on how we understand the words ‘hope’, ‘future’ and ‘prosperity’.
I was recently sent the picture of a poster hanging outside a church. The graphic on it read, GOD LOVES YOU and has an amazing plan for your life. SIN GOT IN THE WAY and separated you from God. JESUS the Son of God GAVE HIS LIFE on the cross to take away your sin. Repent, believe in Him and you will have ETERNAL LIFE AND HOPE WITH GOD!!! This statement on the Gospel represents the majority Christian position in our own culture, and around the world. But I take issue with this statement. Although each of these individual statements are actually true, stringing together a set of true statements does not necessarily communicate the entire truth in the right context. In fact, some such statements are prone to misinterpretations. That’s the problem with the message in this poster. It offers you truth, but without clarity. It seems to suggest that we were innocent creations who were kidnapped by sin. And God, in His infinite love for us, gave His life upon a cross and in so doing defeated sin. And, for those of us who repent and believe in Him shall have eternal life. Do you see the problem? This story seems to suggest that God is the protagonist and sin is the antagonist. That we are caught up in this cosmic battle as God tries to save us and sin tries to kill us. This is a common misinterpretation and is far from the truth. So what is the Gospel message then? Let us go over each statement on that poster and understand them in their proper contexts.
Therefore, words such as ‘hope’, ‘future’ and ‘prosperity’ can mean very different and dangerous things if we have a worldview where God’s purposes revolve around us. God does all things primarily for His glory (Isaiah 48:9-11). And we are saved in order to bring Him glory. Therefore, our hope is secured in Him and His purposes, and not ours. Our future is to follow Him wherever He leads us whether it be as chiefs of big multinational companies, or the slums of India as missionaries to the poor and destitute. And finally, our prosperity is not in money. Money may be one way He prospers us, but have you not heard Jesus say that it is easier for the camel to enter through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24). For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils (1 Timothy 6:10). You can have all the money in the world and yet have nothing. The hope of prosperity, or rather the reality of it, is that we can prosper even in the slums of India and be a mighty instrument for His glory all the days of our lives, and we’d have been more prosperous than the millionaire who does nothing more than go to church every Sunday. Our lives are meant to be lived, not for us, but for Him. Because we are not the centre of the Gospel, God is.