Monday, June 2, 2008

The Emptiness of the WOF

I was watching some WOF preacher (Kenneth Copeland) on the tube the other day (yes…sometimes I just enjoy torturing myself—and my wife!), and he made the usual ridiculous statement to the effect that, “God never intended anyone to get sick…” blah…blah…blah! I’ve heard all this nonsense before, countless times. This is just the typical “name it and claim it” shtick that all of these WOF charlatans propagate on their way to milking millions of dollars out of blind and ignorant sheep. I say “blind” and “ignorant”, as if these people are innocent; but the more I think about it, the more it strikes me that these WOF sham-artist “salesmen” are simply preying on the selfishness and self-centeredness of those who think that they deserve “the world” and all it has to offer—money, fame, health, success, etc. Just look at the “congregation” in these churches and tell me that I’m wrong. I realize that there are many in these pews that are simply deceived because this is all the "Christianity" that they've known, and the leaders of this movement will be held accountable. But we, the "layman", are also responsible; we must take some of the blame for the self-centeredness of our hearts and for allowing these charlatans to prey on our selfish, sinful desires. If it wasn't for us, these wolves would not be in business!

Now I don’t mean to be unsympathetic to the truly hurting souls who simply desire God to “touch” them (or a family member) and heal their disease because they are truly desperate for relief; I do believe that God still miraculously heals today and that (some) people who are at these “healing meetings” are truly seeking God out of desperation and sincerity for His Glory. I mean…the Bible shows us that there were many people who sought the healing touch of Christ Himself or His disciples; but that was a completely different set of circumstances than what we have today. Jesus came as the long-awaited King and Messiah, and His Person and Work (of redemption) were authenticated by His fulfilling the Word of God in His (and His disciples) healings and miraculous works. Christ proved who He was and what He was to do by “being” the prophesied One—authenticated by the miracles that He and His disciples performed!

But what lies at the heart of this notion that God doesn’t want me sick or poor or in need (of anything!) is the idea that I deserve to have health, riches and power; that my life is somehow less than it’s supposed to be if I suffer in any way, shape or form; that it’s unfair for me to be in want or need of anything! This is the epitome of self-centeredness: I want it, so I should have it! This is not a Biblical idea; it is a satanic idea that breeds off of the (natural) un-redeemed self-centeredness of our hearts—the very thing that Christ came to cleanse us from! It was the self-centered, autonomous desire of our father Adam that led us into this estrangement from God in the first place. Christ came to cleanse us from the sin of our autonomous unbelief and to restore us to the Father in our true humanity; a humanity that finds all of our joys and happiness in our relationship to God as Children to a Father. We are dependent upon Him in every way; and He says that His grace is sufficient for our every need. By the indwelling Spirit, we are now Christ-centered, not self-centered, and we praise God in all things!

Before we come to know God through Christ, our minds are naturally bent toward seeking our own good (however we define it) and in the way that we want (whatever that looks like to us). And how does this usually look? Like “the world”, of course, because before we are Born Again by the Spirit through faith in Christ, we are of the "world". By the "world” I’m referring to the “worldly system”, the way the “natural” man thinks (the person who has not been transformed by the Spirit into a child of God through the New Birth). The world defines success and happiness by financial prosperity, healthy (and beautiful) bodies, and popularity or power. Every advertisement is an enticement toward these “ideals” because this is how the “world” defines happiness. But (biblical) Christianity is radically different!

Christ says that His kingdom is not of this world. Jesus’ teachings and those of His apostle’s are directly opposed to the superficial, self-centered propaganda of the world. Happiness and success in biblical terms is found only in Christ. The Bible teaches that we are not to live our lives consumed by desire for the goods of this world, but to be content with what God has given us and to keep our minds focused on “heavenly things”; that is, things of spiritual importance. And what kinds of things are these?—things that glorify our God, the truth of the Gospel! Our focus should be on living our lives to the glory of Christ our Lord so that we become a testimony of the grace of God in us. With our minds and hearts focused on “heavenly things”, we live lives of love toward one another and the world because our happiness is in God—alone! Our calling is not to be of the world, defining success and happiness by the world’s standards; but rather, our calling is to be in the world all the while testifying to the world that happiness is “other-worldly”. “My kingdom”, Jesus says, “is not of this world”!

Christ’s kingdom is in this world, through His people who share the Spirit of God; but it’s not of this world. It’s an entirely different mind-set. The citizens of Christ’s kingdom are those who find their happiness in Christ alone. The citizens of Christ’s kingdom are those who live their lives in this world for the glory of God, not the treasures of this world. The citizens of Christ’s kingdom do not look to this world for their source of contentment, but they look, by faith, toward the “better country”, the “heavenly country” (heavenly things!) of which they are a part. It is here, in the presence of Christ by His indwelling Spirit that the citizen of the kingdom finds all joy, peace and happiness. The “goods” of this world (financial prosperity, health, power, etc.) mean nothing to the citizen of the kingdom because she has her joy in Christ, not in her life in this world and this world’s ideals. The biblical Christian is not consumed with desire for the goods of this world, but for the good of this world, i.e. the redemption of her fellow Man!

The biblical Christian, as also the non-believer, still seeks his own good. But unlike the unredeemed person, the biblical Christian defines his good as God defines it—in union with Christ! The unbeliever finds his good in the goods or provision of this world; the Christian finds his good in the good provision of God Himself in Christ. The Christian’s happiness is in his relationship with God in Christ, with little regard to the “things” of this world.

Copeland and his ilk are living only for this world and what it has to offer them—and they will reap what they sow! They want this world and what it has to offer so bad…and they will have it—at the expense of the “heavenly country”, the country that Abraham and the patriarchs so desired! This is the country that we long for even now by faith, as did our father Abraham. We are citizens of the kingdom now—and yet, we still look by faith for the return of our Lord and the redemption of the Cosmos. We still look by faith for the New Jerusalem in the consummation of the New Heavens and New Earth! The true Christian lives by faith, not by sight. The WOF movement lives by sight, not knowing what faith is. Copeland and his deceivers cater to our inherent selfishness—and we willingly support them in their deception! I don’t know who is more culpable: the so-called “teachers” or those who willingly and selfishly support them hoping to gain “the world”.

Having said all of that, however, Copeland’s words do ring true—from the proper perspective. Indeed, God did not intend for His Image-Bearers to ever be sick, poor or otherwise downtrodden in any way. Remember, when God created the world and all things in it He proclaimed it “good”. The Garden of Eden was a “type” of the Shalomic existence that God had prepared for His creation. With The Fall, however, came estrangement and the disruption of Shalom. But with the coming of Christ, God is restoring Shalom and will one day, upon Christ’s return, establish the New Heavens and New Earth with the redemption of the Cosmos; and in this way, Shalom will once again reign throughout God’s good creation! Until then, we live in a fallen world and are subject to the effects of sin in this fallen world. God’s purpose for us as His children is to glorify Him by testifying to the world that God has brought redemption in Christ and through Christ has restored our relationship to Him! When the “world” sees us content in every circumstance of life, happy just to know God as Father regardless of what our lot in life is, then they see the grace of God in Christ—and they want what we have! Our "apologetic" for the Gospel is the life we live in intimate relationship with our Father whatever the circumstances of our lives.

Copeland offers life in this world; Jesus offers LIFE everlasting! Who are you going to believe? As for me and my house, I choose the Lord!


Abbey said...

Another problem these guys seem to have is even in what they think faith is. To them, faith is finding a verse out of context that speaks something of wealth or health and using "faith" to demand it from God. Isn't faith believing in something, though you can't experience it with your senses? So many of these people seem to think that faith is demanding riches from God - something you can definitely experience and tries to satisfy your natural mind.

The Great Googly Moogly! said...

Your right--people in the WOF really don't live by faith at all. They live by sight because they live for the world. And that makes sense since "the world" is all that these "wolves" have to offer the sheep. But it's "the world" that so many people want! That's why John warns us about gravitating towards the "things of the world"--it so easily catches us in its grip.

Mr. Creep said...

Man, that was good! You really seem to be able to explain these simple ideas in ways that even I could have understood 3 years ago. Thanks!

"Our calling is not to be of the world, defining success and happiness by the world’s standards; but rather, our calling is to be in the world all the while testifying to the world that happiness is “other-worldly”." -- I wish I could get some unnamed people to read that :D Ok, ok... Still, though, it was really good. Thanks for writing!