Some of you may have heard of the term “prosperity gospel”. It’s an unfortunate trend in some churches where it is preached that God will make you successful and prosperous if you do something specific, for example giving money. Now I am 100000% against this belief, but what about the other extreme?
As I understand it, the opposite of the prosperity gospel is probably the suffering gospel. Basically it means that I can’t ask God for anything that would benefit me because I’m not important enough. You know, the whole “less me more you Lord” thing. I’m not sure why but this has been my attitude for most of my life.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am very happy and grateful for everything God’s given me. Like most people I live in a comfort zone that I struggle to give up. But that comfort zone has a wall that goes both ways – it keeps me in a place where I get what I’m used to, not less, but particularly not more. As a result I’ve been guilty of judging the haves much more readily than the have-nots. I’m working at it and I definitely give rich folk the benefit of the doubt more often than not, but I still struggle with the whole idea, that some people receive so many material blessings, while others have nothing. So when I get something I didn’t expect I often feel guilty and feel like I need to give it away. It’s superficial humility. Jesus did say that we should submit and be humble but I don’t think guilt trips were his idea. When a wealthy Roman officer asked Jesus to come and heal his slave, Jesus commended the man for his faith. He didn’t say, “you have great faith, but you’re a materialist. Sorry.” I think it shows that Jesus is more interested in our hearts than anything else. If I constantly obsess about having too much, it is probably just as insulting, if not more so, than worrying about not having enough. I know I’d feel rejected if someone didn’t accept my gift with joy.
I guess the trick is to see blessings for what they are. They are gifts from God, even to those who don’t love him. They do not determine our identities or status. I am God’s kid, regardless of where or how I live. Sounds simple enough and it should be, but it is a struggle, especially when advertising consists of putting us in boxes based on what we own.
I’ll continue to struggle, but I’m OK with that. I want to ask God what I need to give so I can live without limits, but I also want to accept what he gives me. So here’s to letting go.