It had been more than a year since I had seen her. We’d had our share of good conversations when our kids had attended Christian school together, but her frown moving toward me through the crowd left me looking for escape routes.
She arrived with hands held out to hold my shoulders as she looked me over, shaking that frown at me.
“We’ve missed you,” she said. “How horrible that you had to leave.”
I breathed. “It’s not horrible. Far from it.”
She grabbed my hand.
“No, really,” I said. “Public school is where God wanted us. It was hard to leave, but the school has been a blessing.”
She winked. “It’s good you can say that.”
“I’m not just saying that. I mean it.”
“I’m sure you do.”
And I did. We had left the school because we couldn’t pay the tuition. Years of facing under- then unemployment, compounded by mounting medical debt, will do that. But I had sensed God calling us to our local public school for a long time.
Frowny Face obviously couldn’t believe that. Neither did the people who pitied us during our “terrible” season of being broke. Not with a quiet belief system that’s grown rather insidious among the faithful.
It’s a belief system implied every time a Christian told me to have faith, to keep our kids enrolled in the Christian school because God will provide. It’s a belief system that many Christians don’t name and claim outright but still subtly embrace. It’s the belief that God confirms our faithfulness by adding zeroes to pay stubs, by keeping us healthy, by giving us spouses and babies. That while God may allow the occasional step back or stumble, really he is all about upward and onward, bigger and better.
It’s a belief system that won’t entertain a God who doesn’t consider our comfort, that can’t imagine a heavenly Father who gave Solomon wisdom and wealth but gave us patience and a brush with poverty. It’s a belief system that leaves little room for a God who might take away to enrich in ways that have nothing to do with health or wealth.
Most of us would explicitly eschew the prosperity gospel. Still, I believe it has wormed its way through time and place, from its Pentecostal roots to smiley megachurch preachers, even to the most conservative wings of evangelical faith. It crosses racial and socioeconomic boundaries and wraps snug around our hearts, holding us in a grip we don’t even want to shake off.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today