October 28, 2008

Don't Waste Your Life (or your time) on Prosperity


Give us more, give us more....wealth? Comfort? Ease?

A friend of mine turned me on to a beautiful sermon that pastor John Piper preached this past Sunday. It's very appropriate to our current global economic disaster and it really resonated with me through and through. The title of the sermon is "Proclaiming the Excellencies of Christ, Not Prosperity, Among the Nations." This blog is just a simple encouragement to go watch/listen or read the Sermon. You won't regret it. Click on the Blog title or this link to view the sermon page:

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/2008/3361_Proclaiming_the_Excellencies_of_Christ_Not_Prosperity_Among_the_Nations/

I've been a huge fan of Piper's work since I read his book "Don't Waste Your Life". In all honesty, that book set me on a path towards utter ruin in terms of how unfocused I HAD been living my life (how small my focus was of the cross) and the way I've been living my life since. It's caused me to rethink everything; the way I live my faith, how I act as a Christian, how I view the world around me, how much God should be my EVERYTHING. God is far too big to fit as just a little piece of my life. After reading Piper's book I made the decision to make Christ my everything and I'm still feeling the tremors from the quake that took place in my life. I recently had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Piper and hear him speak on the topic of worship. Life changing conference. Sometime in the near future I'll share how much that event has continued to wreck havoc on my future. The friend that first gave me this book asked me during this event as to what portion of the book really impacted me. My response was "I can't really recall which chapter or page it was but about 3 or 4 chapters in, I was done with". After thinking that comment through, I would have responded with "The whole thing is what wrecked me". I think Chapter 5 is what really got me, though. It's titled "Risk is Right - Better to Lose Your Life Than To Waste It". If you haven't read this book, you should do yourself a favor and pick it up. Watch the sermon and then buy the book. I've only begun to skim the surface of where God has deeply inspired my life through, most importantly, His word, but also through this book.

P.S.

My only comment against the false teaching of prosperity is that at the absolute base of the error are fingers pointing at something that distracts from, not towards Jesus. I'll just give you one example of my encounter within this world of Prosperity. In my college days I was part of a wonderful prison ministry. Before we would enter a jail we would be split up two by two with a partner. Prisons are obviously a bit scary but we'd always say that Born-again prisoners we met were far more free than most people we met at church. I was split up with a man who was much older than I was in age but was much younger in the faith. The first cell we came to was an African-American man that had stolen something and ended up in the slammer. My "partner" goes on to tell him that ever since he received Jesus he was given a new job, a bigger home and just purchased a brand new red Corvette. No lie. I took him aside and asked him what Jesus gave each of the apostles for following Him. He looked dumbfounded. Jesus actually did the opposite. He instructed them to leave everything behind and "Take nothing with you for the journey--no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic." He almost instantly saw my point and said "I've never really thought about that". Imagine that. You and a whole slew of Fancy Evangelical dressers. I believe we need a Jesus-sized reality check that we were never meant to be so possessed by our possessions. I'm not saying that God doesn't ever allow us to have anything and that it's wrong to own anything. I'm just saying it's wrong to be OWNED by anything other than God himself. It's just that we've replaced the word "need" with "want" and what we "want" we usually find a way to get. We're good at chasing down our wants. God redeem us.

9 comments:

WhatToDoAbout.com said...

amen

nate said...

I want too much

thx bro

Jamey Clayberg said...

good post dude, it's easy to get lost in the quest for "stuff." Even reaching for fiscal stability is a bit of a trap, how stable is stable enough? And what part does faith and God's hand play in it?

preston said...

great post. i too have conflicts with the whole teaching of worldly prosperity by Christians. It seems that so often we all forget that on day we will either die or God will return for us. and for some reason we think God will also take our favorite car or our super expensive Gibson Les Paul or whatever we hold valuable. It makes me question what the modern church's concept of the Great Commission is. Growing up in the church, I've found that many churches love the concept of sharing their faith under their conditions (comfy church pews, dinner socials, pie nights etc.). That also ties in with what you were saying about taking nothing with you and proclaiming the great things that God has done. But if the "church's" priorities are on fancy buildings and lighting rigs and sound systems and after service parties, it will never has its priorities in line with God (aka. disobedience).

Apostles. said...

it's completely trendy now, because of their rise in popularity..

but have you read any Shane Claiborne or Brian McClaren's stuff?

both of their work has completely ruined me and changed my outlook about the Sermon on The Mount and how controversial it was and how much we aren't teaching the same message that homeless, humble Jesus taught.

i've been trying to set up a tour with a bunch of bands on the same page. with the focus more on what we can do to help the poor and homeless rather than what messages we can bring to stages. i feel like we all as a community, under a man that completely turned everything we know upside down, need to be reaching out to more than just kids at shows. we need to be building communities in every city on tour rosters.

we've spent the last 40 years completely missing out on the freedom Jesus came to give us. and it's time we start encouraging our generation to step up and exemplify Jesus' message. our scene is the one to do it. we need so get our hands dirty in loving the oppressed. and i'm so stoked on our potential.


- Chad Johnson. (awkward that we have the same name...)

Chad Johnson said...

Jamey - not sure if you'll even see this so I'll hit you up (which I owe you anyway) but I couldn't agree with you more. "A Stable trap" sounds like the beautiful title for a future song or album, or piece of art. I'd love to see it when it's completed! Love you man.

Chad Johnson said...

Chad Johnson (yes, that is insanely weird to know that there are minions of Ocho Cinco followers out there!).

First, would you mind clarifying what your first comment is regarding?

Secondly, Yes I love Shane Claiborne and his writings. I've actually been most wrecked by "The Irresistible Revolution" and by "Don't Waste Your Life". I read most of "TIR" on my way back from Atlanta a couple of years ago and read for 5 hours on a plane and cried most of the way. It BLEW my mind, and still is. Haven't read much of Brian's work, anything you would suggest to start with?
blessings bro. chad

Chad Johnson said...

Preston - Amen, brother. Preach it!

Apostles. said...

I just meant that these two writers have blown up recently, and that a lot of people just read them for face value, almost like its the hip thing to read books about Social Justice.

After all, they are super hard books to read, because you are left with only two options, give it all away and replicate Jesus or continue hoarding and replicate Rome.

"The Irresistible Revolution" rocked me for sure. I read over in Australia, while I was at school at Hillsong College, this huge like MegaChurch and afterwards it just left me in the biggest God turmoil. I was like what am I supposed to do... try and change the motives of this place, go somewhere new? I ended up sitting in my room for like a week wrestling with God. I felt so convicted about the way I lived my life and my attitude toward the poor. I cared, but I didn't care enough. I was blinded to Jesus' true message. That book has done wonders for me. I try and read it every couple months. It stirs me up like crazy!

I haven't read "Don't Waste Your Life." I read "When I Don't Desire God" and I loved it.

Brian McLaren is an awesome dude, and a really smart communicator. I am in the middle of "Everything Must Change" right now. It's a book about Global Crisis and about how Jesus fits into that. It's blowing my mind. I have to read it sparsely because there is so much information.

I think he is most known for his book "The Secret Message of Jesus." He has caught a lot of slack about some of the things he says in it, because it's pretty edgy. However, I thought it was really relevant and pretty spot-on.

You should definitely check him out. He has a couple awesome videos on YouTube as well. They are pretty insightful, I think.