Occasionally, we would visit churches during Christmas season to attend their plays about Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, and Resurrection. At one church, the front and center section was roped off and marked “reserved”. About five minutes before opening curtain, dozens of well-dressed men and women were escorted to the reserved seats where they were told that they each had gifts waiting for them below the chairs. As it turns out, they had all just come from a special dinner put on by that very church just for them. I assumed that they were the like the boosters for sporting teams. People who had in some way financially supported the church and paid for the production costs of that very play. The other five sections of chairs had no such gifts below them, so to this day I have always wondered what they were given.
When it comes to the Prosperity Gospel, we can see an uneven relationship where the poor give from their limited resources with the belief that their investment will multiply and the wealthy take those resources as proof that their prior investment has come to fruition so much so that they can afford expensive houses as well as personal jets. On this we can only take their word that in the same way that God has blessed them, he shall bless each and every poor Christian until they join the ranks of wealthy Christians. The problem is that by referring to it as a seed, believers understand that it takes time for a seed to sprout, flower, and bear fruit. The televangelists, on the other hand receive money with no wait time and no rules on what to do with it. Not only that, the promise of the Prosperity Gospel is that God will reward one’s faith, eventually. The church play rewarded it’s boosters on opening night, they didn’t say: “Thank you for your love-gifts. One day God will reward you ten-fold! Honestly, we would never lie to you about a thing like that.”
It also seems to me that there’s a general sense of: “if you’re well-off then God must be pleased with you and if you’re poor God doesn’t trust you with more until you’ve proven yourself worthy of it so you must be doing something wrong” even outside of Prosperity Gospel teachings. It causes us to ignore our poorer brothers and sisters and praise the richer ones. In a very real way we judge each other and choose favorites. We assume that rich Christians are trustworthy teachers because God has given them more then they must know more about spiritual things. All that matters is that their wealth is proof of God’s blessing, how they came by it makes no difference. Likewise, a poor steward is seen as one who has not been blessed and does not know more, in all likelihood, they know less about spiritual things. Favoritism does that, it blinds us to the true characteristics of a person based on their perceived quantity of another characteristic.It tips the scales by which we judge people so that one side will always win and the other side will always lose.