Many people have now heard the story of a prominent minister telling his congregation that God wanted him to “bleed him for a Falcon 7X”, an expensive private jet. The rationale for this request and others like it was that God wants us to succeed, that there are amazing things available just for the asking. The line of thinking goes that if you are not getting things, you must not be asking correctly. This message is proclaimed in many churches and is often known as “prosperity gospel”. Their claims must ring hollow for those less concerned with jets and more concerned with making rent each month.
While this example is extreme, it illustrates a problem that is causing great damage to Christians and non-Christians alike. It has nothing to do with historical Christian belief but is actually a perversion of it, a counterfeit faith if you will. The problem is that some leaders are encouraging people to believe that hope and faith are the same thing.
Faith is believing something that can’t easily be seen. It’s trusting that God is who He says He is, even though He is not physically visible. It’s believing that the promises that Jesus made are true. Faith is the anchor of the Christian life. It’s faith that allows us to trust that God forgives us, that He is for us, and that He is calling us to take action to make a difference in the world. Hope, however, is different.
Hope is wanting something (good or bad) that has never been promised. Kids can hope that there will be a bike under the Christmas tree, even when their parents never promised them a bike. We can hope our team wins the Super Bowl. We can hope that the light stays green long enough for us to pass through. We can even hope that our check-up with the doctor turns out ok. We hope for those things, because while they are good, they were never promised to us by God. Hope is important, but it’s not the same as faith. Here’s a few other things God did not promise us in the Bible:
Lots of money
A little money
The perfect job
A life of ease.
In fact, Jesus promised that Christians would face many challenges in life, although that message is pushed to the side by those seeking money for jets. Leading people to believe that what they hope for is something that they can actually have faith in is toxic and manipulative. It crushes good people who are going through difficult times. It also leads us to blame God for not delivering on things that He never promised us in the first place.
It’s not wrong to want a jet or a car or house. Hope is good. There is nothing wrong with hoping for things and working to attain them. But hopes shouldn’t be confused with matters of faith. God is reliable and faithful to His promises. The problem is that many people convince others that God has promised things that He hasn’t. How can ministers get away with this sort of extravagance, and with making these outlandish promises? Visit my site again for my next post which addresses this very issue.