404 American Dream Christianity

American Dream Christianity

I went to a prosperity church for a short season. At the time, I didn’t even know what that meant. I just knew that they had a fancy building, comfortable seats, a great choir and strangely enough…lots of people putting money on the altar all throughout the service.

I had just started going to church again following an extended hiatus in college. I no longer lived at home where my parents were diligent to go every Sunday. Plus, getting home at 4am after a night of clubbing wasn’t exactly the best way to prepare my heart for an early morning of worship.

I didn’t think much of the inordinate amount of focus on money at first. I was just glad to be back in church. I was like a sponge and began to soak up everything that was taught.

Unfortunately, I started feeling like my current financial situation was a direct result of the size of the “seed I was sowing”. Now let me say that I’ve never had an issue with giving to the church. But obviously while on my break, I wasn’t sending tithe checks anywhere.

Before long, I began to look around at all the nice suits, expensive watches and luxury cars in the parking lot. I started to feel like God wanted me to have these things. I thought the reason I didn’t have these things was because I still “owed” God for all that back tithe. It accrued interest on top of that!

Week after week I heard about how God wanted me to be healthy and prosperous and happy. I had never heard that before but I figured this was part of the Bible that I just never got around to reading.

But it at some point, it wasn’t feeling right. I started to ask questions and nobody seemed to have answers. I wondered why there were people that God didn’t heal. I asked why some in the church drive BMWs while some single moms could barely pay the rent. I wasn’t buying the fact that this was all connected to their giving.

The sermons sounded eerily similar to the American Dream (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) as opposed to talking about the actual cost of discipleship (pick up your cross and follow).

Not long after that, I left. It was a rough time for me because I was seeking to grow spiritually and I had to face some pretty deep disappointment. Thankfully it didn’t make me bitter, it just pushed me to seek out God’s heart on these issues.

In retrospect, I’m glad I experienced this because I had to make the decision to go from a follower to a disciple. I learned that this life is about something way bigger than me. And while I know that God loves me and does give me the desires of my heart, I also know that the culture of the Kingdom is nothing like the culture of this country.

Do you struggle with living both in the culture of the Kingdom and the culture of your country?

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I’m sharing My Hazardous Faith Story as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. If you have a story, be sure to link up to it here.

Comments

  1. I had never been an active member of a prosperity church but I sure have walked out during a service when I realized I was in one. Its dangerous to mislead the people of God and it makes me made that people are willing to buy into everything they hear. I do believe God gives financial blessings just like He gives other types of blessings but to base a whole ministry around getting rich turns my stomach.
    Ralph recently posted..By: ralphjp

  2. I was part of a church for a while that was big into the prosperity gospel – God wants us all to be rich with fancy cars and big homes, and if you don’t have that, it’s because you aren’t giving enough or you don’t have enough faith. Thankfully we moved out of that minder pretty quickly. It was a very ugly time in the life of that church.
    Jason Vana recently posted..Douglas Wilson

  3. Sometime back I was struggling with living both in the culture of the Kingdom and the culture of your country. I had a lifestyle like yours back in college but when I finally got out I was just curious about everything that goes in the church, but at the same time I was stuck to the things I liked back in college like clubbing. But I finally chose the culture of the Kingdom.
    Garry Stewart recently posted..Max Workouts Exposed

  4. One of the struggles I find is that I can always point to someone who has more and who should pick up the slack for me. I sort of lower the bar for myself, asking God to put the burden on someone else. While I’m only responsible for taking the steps that God puts in front of me, it will most likely be a costly sacrifice.
    ed cyzewski recently posted..Hazardous: What Are the Costs of Not Following Jesus?

  5. I struggle with this because I give and give when God tells me and each month I have to rely on help from friends to pay the bills. The more I give, the more it seems I need to depend on others to help me pay bills at the end of the month. You have no idea how humbling but completely frustrating it is to not be able to make even necessary repairs to the house I’m trying to sell because I can barely pay the utility bill. And yet I see all these churches saying that if I give to God, He’s going to make me prosperous. I’d like to sit those pastors down and ask them why when I’m doing what they tell people to do that my situation just continues to deteriorate. I’m sure they’ll say it’s my fault for some kind of sin. Another wonderful message, eh? God won’t bless you even if you’re obedient because you have to be sinning somewhere.
    Jason recently posted..Garbage In, Garbage Out: Music

    • I can’t even pretend to know how you feel, man. That’s such a rough position. If the local church put more time into helping people get out of debt practically, there wouldn’t be so much of a feeling of condemnation as it relates to giving.

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