Imagine preaching the same 'prosperity gospel' preached in New york, to the people living in the villages of New Guinea!
To the people who are living in the falling apart hay huts...
Imagine telling them that God would bless them with Cadillac's, Lexus's, computers, iPhones or jobs in big corporations if they only knew how to 'claim' God's blessings. Or if they had enough 'faith'! Lets say, God blessed them with Cadillac's, where would they drive those? Do they have roads? Are they more concerned about luxury cars and homes than food to survive? I think it is safe to assume that most of them would be pretty happy if they had enough food to eat and a place to lay their head at night.
Is the message of Gospel geographic-specific? Would it be different based on what country/region you live in? Is it era-specific, that its relevant today but wasn't relevant 2000 years ago?
I thought the message of gospel, which was true 2000 years ago is still the same today and forever for ALL humanity all over world.
Well, only if it's preached for what it is...
Did Jesus have one message for New yorkers and another one for New Guineans?
I think this is where we would need to make a come back to the core fundamental truth of the Bible and see what truly the message of Gospel is, and learn to keep the 'majors' as majors and 'minors' as minors in the Bible.
One of the famous passages written by Apostle Paul goes like this,
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." - Romans 1:16-17
So, the gospel is about God's gift of righteousness given to us through Christ Jesus! It is about Jesus doing something we could never do. It is, 'God reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them'. It is about Christ providing forgiveness for the entire humanity(Africans, Americans, Asians, Europeans) through His death and was raised from dead so that He can give the same LIFE which resurrected Him, to us, which is eternal LIFE. It is about restoring what we lost in Adam - spiritual life.
Now, that is a good news for anyone - poor, sick, rich, homeless, New Yorker, New Guinean, white, black, brown, yellow, green! It was a good news 2000 years ago, still a good news in 2009 and it will be a good news until the second coming of Christ. It won't change and it cannot be changed!
Imagine telling a sick, malnutritioned African kid that he is sick because he is not 'claiming' what God has for him. Imagine telling a born-handicapped person that he is handicapped because he has no enough faith to claim healing. Imagine telling a mute person that since he is not speaking in tongues, he is less spiritual.
It looks like we turned spirituality into a mechanism for our physical and material well-being here on earth. Seemingly becoming more and more selfish. And we try to sell a 'puppet jesus' who would satisfy our greedy consumerism! And we think we are better than others since we have more 'stuff' and a stuff-providing god.
What is Jesus has to offer me? a trouble-free life? healing? prosperity? an emotional gratification? a short-term entertainment?
What is the fellowship with other believers going to offer me? sense of community? security of a friends circle?
What is the Church has to offer me?
What is the pastor has to offer me?
It's all about ME! I love ME!
When there are troubles in our life, what is the one question which frequently comes to our mind?
Where is that question coming from? It is coming from the deep reality that we think we are better than others! When someone else had an accident/sickness/job loss, we didn't ask "why she?" or "why he?" Did we? We just sympathized with them and prayed for them. But when the same thing happens to us, we ask loud : "Why me" or "Why my wife/husband/kids?"
I would ask another question in return : Why NOT?
Who is not prone to sickness or accident or job loss? Since I am a Christian (and a better one), I shouldn't lose my job? If, so all the people who had lost their jobs are somehow 'bad'? I should always get that promotions I wanted? And I should always own a big house in the subdivision? nice car? nice vacation? and I should be perfectly healthy all the time? (One thing that I still don't understand, that if I am supposed to be perfectly healthy always, I shouldn't die even if I am 150 years old!)
Where in the Bible Jesus/Apostles promised a trouble-free life? I can't see it!
When I think that I am living in perfect health and harmony and I am entitled for such blessing because I am a Christian/believer, what I am unknowingly proclaiming is that the believers who are less fortunate (who has no car, no enough food, no home, no medical insurance, no vacation, no enough money, no job, no doctor) are somehow inferior to me; there by, I believe God has partiality!
Why would we believe that Christians should be sickness-free and poverty-free when it is a mere fact that there are genuine believers who are sick and poor?
It is also a fact that there are unbelievers who are much more healthier and wealthier than many Christians. How do we explain that? When I get nice weather, the 'sinner' next door is also getting the same nice weather, how dare!
Folks, when did Jesus become a god of wealthy? (This is not to say that He is just the God of poor). I am saying, he is God of every single believer all around in the world, regardless of whether he/she is poor, wealthy, sick, well, white, black, brown, yellow, American, Canadian, Chinese, homeowner, homeless, CEO, clerk, nanny, prisoner, landscaper, jobless or handicapped.
Jesus did not die only for the people who live in developed countries on earth, he also died for those in the slum villages of Africa and India. And it is absolutely possible that a person can be a child of God while still living in a poor village where there are no hospitals, transportation or a sense of (physical) security.
He/She can still be totally content, joyful, and in total peace!
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. - Apostle Paul (Phil 4:11-13)