Be careful what drives your emotion and in which direction! In pop-Christianity, people claim they are elevating God; they just functionally believe that is done by emoting passionately during the service to “give everything to Him.” Me-centered Christianity is very expressive, but we must take great care as to the content of the worship.
“I don’t get the hype,” my friend said about the new restaurant opening in our city.
“Seriously?” I asked. I’d been unofficially counting down the days until opening, waiting for the renowned barbeque joint to open its Tallahassee outpost. We were getting hometown access to the Tom Brady of ribs and my buddy didn’t “get the hype.” As former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden would say, “Goodness gracious sakes alive.”
On the drive back from our inaugural lunch, I asked my friend what he thought about the food itself and he casually said, “It was fine. I just don’t really get the appeal.”
In this instance, my friend was beginning with a severe skepticism that even delicious barbeque couldn’t overcome. On the other hand, I was beginning with high expectations, which were bound to either lead to extreme disappointment or a biased impression of what was put onto my plate. In either case, we were both in for a confrontation between expectation and reality. But the sort of excited optimism I had comes close to what we’re seeing amongst antsy, searching people and a prosperity gospel that promises a God whose chief goal is to facilitate your personal happiness. It’s not hard to find the appeal.
We all feel pressure to pursue peace with God, whether that means reasoning away His existence or seeking to appease whatever version of Him we think exists. That’s part of the issue with the new prosperity gospel. Whereas the Bible teaches that peace with God comes via death (to Christ and also to self), this newer message implies that peace with God is settled, and we can now return to the preeminent goal of self-fulfillment. The ultimate appeal is that you can pursue the earthly carrots dangling in front of you in the name of Christianity.