Prosperity Gospel Testimonies

If you've spent much time in an evangelical church, you have probably been trained on how to share your "story." We teach people how to tell their story of faith in a way that allows the Gospel to be clear so that someone else could hear about what Jesus Christ has done in our life and think about their own response to the Gospel. No question, it's an incredible way to share your faith.

But (and I include myself in this), we need to be more careful how we train people to share their story. 

The normal parameters for a person's story are these: 

1. Tell about your life before you trusted Christ.
2. Tell how you trusted Christ. 
3. Tell how your life has changed.

The problem I have as I think more about it is with the third step. Because we want people to be compelled to  trust Christ through our story, the temptation is to load-up the third part of our story with all the incredible things that happened after we put our faith in Jesus. After we trusted Christ, we stopped smoking cold turkey, stopped cussing on the golf course, stopped reacting in anger against our employees, and experienced peace and joy that we'd never experienced before. The sky started raining lemon drops and gumdrops, and our home life was instantly transformed into a 1950s television show. 

The problem is, in doing so we inadvertently preach a prosperity gospel to people, causing them to make assumptions that aren't true. Sometimes after you trust Christ, bad habits don't automatically go away. Sometimes after you trust Christ your family still falls apart. Sometimes after you trust Christ your friends abandon you, or you get sick, or you lose your life-savings in a bad investment you prayed hard about.  

Trusting Christ doesn't ensure that your life will instantly get better, or even that it will trend better (in purely experiential terms) over the long-haul. You don't have to read the New Testament very long to recognize that sometimes life gets harder.

We've got to go deeper in our stories and stop treating them like bad infomercials. 

We don't want to rock the boat in the other direction either. The doom-and-gloom gospel isn't any more honest than the prosperity gospel. The hope of the gospel isn't simply that it improves our day-to-day circumstances. It's that it recasts those circumstances whether good or bad in light of eternity so that our response to those experiences springs-up from hope that is found somewhere outside what happens to us (Colossians 1:5). 

The Gospel is compelling on its own. We don't have to spin a positive story to make it more compelling. In reality, when we do that we make the Gospel less compelling because we promise something that doesn't always deliver on the back-end. 


A "Freakin' Angel" said...

Thought-provoking and really well said! Thanks for sharing.