The Gospel of Prosperity
By Rev. Charlotte Parker
Much has been written and preached about the prosperity gospel in recent years. And, much of what has been written is not seen as entirely positive.
So, what is it? Or, more accurately, what does it mean to the average person, whether religious or not.
The word “gospel” has in our society, for better or worse, become firmly and irrevocably associated with the Bible, Christianity and Jesus. Since we live in a diverse world where not everyone shares the same religious beliefs, we must before we proceed, have a common understanding of the word “gospel”. The word itself comes from the Old English god (good) and spell (news or story) and is often used as the translation for the ecclesiastical Latin, bona annuntiato or the Greek, euangelion, literally meaning ‘good news. For this discussion, let us bring it back to a completely secular and simple understanding. Gospel is good news, wherever it comes from.
Now that we have established common ground, let’s look at what prosperity is and is not. Prosperity is not just about having lots of money. Money is not the only road to happiness, success or feeling prosperous. True prosperity is about abundance in all things. When we look at the world around us, not with the lens of day to day living and material acquisition of things, but with the broader lens of life itself, there is so much more than enough for which to be grateful.
The good news is that we live, move and have our being in an abundant universe. There is more than enough love, joy, and peace to go around. The sun shines, every day. We may not always see it, but it is always there. Even if it is hidden behind the clouds, it is still there, shinning and giving its energy to the earth. Science has taught us that matter can neither be created nor destroyed. It can change for, but the atoms and molecules continue to exist. There may be draught in some places and floods in others, but the water to nourish the earth still exists.
Yes, more than enough includes money. But money is only part of the equation. We must begin to look at the bigger picture, the rest of the story. Affirming that we live in an abundant world is relatively useless unless we also affirm that we are worthy and deserving of every good thing available. We must believe that we are not only worthy, but capable of discovering the ways in which that abundance becomes part of our lives.
Prayer and affirmation will support our belief, but they are not the only things we must do. We must appreciate what we already have. For those of us living in first world countries, even those of us who are living in relative poverty, we must recognize and appreciate those things that we have. Yes, life can be hard. There are people who hoard money. Others who use and abuse us and our skills. There are health issues and education issues. There are people and societal structures that discriminate and make it more difficult for others to rise-up. If we continue to look at the issues and not at the possibilities, we will remain right where we are, wallowing in the swamp of despair. To begin rising-up, we must first take stock of and be grateful for where we are. Appreciating those things that are already good in our lives is the foundation. Expressing our gratitude is more than a simple thank you to a supreme entity. We show our gratitude by caring for, using wisely and cherishing those things that are good in our lives. Whether it is a relationship or our home, maintaining it requires effort on our part.
We may have to look deeply to find the hidden treasures, but they do exist in our lives! Our history has romanticized the notion of James Wilson finding flakes of gold in the American River at Sutter’s Mill. The reality is that getting to and getting that gold out of the river and into usable form took a lot of hard work. Many people gave up where they were, took great risks and overcame great hardship for the possibility of living what they believed would be a better life with more things to bring them joy and comfort. Not all achieved their hearts desire of great wealth. Some lost their lives. But many made new lives for themselves in the process, doing things they never thought they could do. They started businesses to supply the needs of those working claims. They created for themselves a very different and satisfactory life than the one they left behind.
Our abundance does not simply fall into our lap and say, “Here I am!” Sometimes, it’s already there if we will look down at our feet and recognize the flakes of gold floating in the river of our life. And sometimes, we must sift through water, mud, and rocks to find the precious nugget that will change our lives.
The good news, the prosperity gospel, is that when we affirm, accept, appreciate and act, we can achieve a life of abundance.
This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2017 issue of CHOICES Magazine