The preacher’s Sunday morning message is something like, “God wants you to be fabulously rich and happy.” That may be the reason my friend likes him. Who doesn’t want to be fabulously rich and happy?
Jesus would never be a welcomed guest on the televangelist’s show. He doesn’t look good under the bright lights of a television studio. His hair isn’t coiffed, he doesn’t wear designer suits, and his message is more like “wealth is a dangerous trap.”
“Go to commercial,” the studio executive screams. We’re starting to get phone calls. “Who let this guy in?”
It’s hard to imagine Jesus ever saying that he wants us to be fabulously rich and happy–in the sense of rich and happy by western standards and values. He was constantly warning his disciples about the deadly trap that wealth creates.
Wealth gives false security. Just when you think you’re on top of the world, stock markets plummet and wealth gets redistributed. In a blink of an eye a person can go from having a fat retirement account to punching the clock to make ends meet.
Back at the television station the coiffed evangelist tells his viewers to pray for success and send in their checks. Which is a good indication that wealth has wrapped its tentacles around him.
What the evangelist doesn’t realize or want to admit is that sooner or later a fall will come. Age, illness, a moral lapse, or poor judgment will take away what he worked so hard to accumulate. Only then will he realize that what he promised his viewers was all a sham.
Jesus, on the other hand, is outside the studio feeding the hungry and sharing what he has, rather than accumulating. Paradoxically, the more given away, the more received. Which is what Jesus has been trying to tell us all along.