Christianity today recently highlighted two preachers who pastor two of the largest churches in America and their views on the subject:
For [Joel] Osteen, Prosperity Gospel isn't a pejorative term:
"Does God want us to be rich?" he asks. "When I hear that word rich, I think people say, 'Well, he's preaching that everybody's going to be a millionaire.' I don't think that's it." Rather, he explains, "I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don't think I'd say God wants us to be rich. It's all relative, isn't it?"
On the other side is the guy whose church rounds out the "largest four" list:
"This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?", [Rick] Warren snorts. "There is a word for that: baloney. It's creating a false idol. You don't measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn't everyone in the church a millionaire?"Two interesting perspectives.. my thinking is somewhere in between.
I agree that God wants us to pay our bills.. also think that He doesn't want us to live above our means.. don't believe that God wants us to be slaves to our credit cards.. this is where many prosperity folks go wrong.
I think that God does want us to be happy.. if that happiness is accompanied by contentment.. really.. money and things can't make you happy.. again the prosperity folks mistakenly define "blessings" narrowly and create an illusion of a "right" to be blessed with things.
I also agree that God wants us to be a blessing to others.. but often money is not what people need most.. many times they need our compassion.. mostly they need us.. they need our presence.. they need the blessing of our time.
I do wonder who Warren is speaking of when he says:
"I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty."He is probably not speaking about folks that attend his church in Southern California. He might be speaking about folks who have had troubles.. health issues.. family tragedies.. folks in third world countries.. mostly he speaks the obvious.. the world is full of folks who are poor due to no fault of their own.. but I doubt that he would say "God wants you to be poor" to His church.
So what should a pastor say to the folks who they regularly speak to? Should they say "God wants you to be poor"?.. or "God wants you to be rich"?.. or should they simply offer scriptures that will cause folks to consider how they can best live a contented and responsible life?