Consider this illustration from LifeWay's Spring 2007 Life Answers Sunday School quarterly:
In high school I had a friend named Brock. He was what we called back then a "motorhead." All Brock talked about was working on cars and dirt bikes. He would show up for school in grease-stained clothes, long unkempt hair, and usually was bumming money for lunch. His grades were poor and his wallet was poorer. If there had been a "most likely to be a failure" category in the yearbook, he would have won by unanimous vote.OK, what was wrong with Brock? Why did he need to change? How does Brock serve as an illustration of radical change, a real and valid experience with Christ? He was bedraggled, poor, obviously didn't own a comb, and enjoyed tinkering on cars. This makes him a viable candidate not for the transforming power of the Gospel, but rather Extreme Makeover. The implication here is that being transformed into the likeness of Christ means you have a bulging wallet, a fat bank account, and you walk in the upper echelon of society. Evolving from welfare to faring well is the essence of the Gospel.
I didn't see Brock again until our 20th class reunion. When I saw him, I couldn't believe my eyes. Standing before me was a successful businessman, straight out of GQ. His expensive suit and well-groomed appearance were such a departure from the last time I saw him that it was hard to believe. I learned later that he had started his own company, and it had assets above one million dollars.
At the very heart of the Gospel is the concept of change. When Jesus enters into your heart and begins changing you into His likeness, the change is so dramatic that the people around you can't help but say, "You're a different person." And this is how it should be. radical change can serve as a signpost to us that our experience with Christ is real and valid (p. 15).
Perhaps I am nit-picking this Sunday School quarterly, but sowing seeds such as these can only bear bitter fruit. The prosperity message is the single greatest heresy plaguing American Christianity right now and such errant teaching should not even be entertained. Too many believers are led astray thinking that God wants them to prosper financially when the Word of God teaches purely contradictory to the prosperity message.
The prosperity teachings rob churches of their evangelistic effectiveness, squelches missionary endeavor, and mints shallow believers, believers more concerned with their wardrobes than the plight of the poor. I do not consider this a wholesale endorsement by LifeWay of the health and wealth teachings, but to sow the wind reaps a whirlwind. Taking baby steps like these can still move you in the general direction of disaster.
Because you say, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, blind, and naked." Revelation 3:17