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  • Writer's pictureKevin Anselmo

Navigating the The Shallow Waters of Instagram Christian Prosperity

I reluctantly follow someone on Instagram who is constantly flaunting his wealth with pictures of fancy cars and his mansion house. He encourages his thousands of followers to trust God so they too can live such a life of opulence. In my opinion, his feed is loitered with blasphemies.

Not sure why I follow this person. Maybe it is because I want to understand the type of prosperity messages that such “influencers” are sharing and see how the followers respond. Unfortunately, these followers respond with many rah-rah-rah emoji high fives and fist bumps.

The content here won’t generate such a response – in part because maybe the message isn’t as appealing to the masses. But here are some messages from the Bible that warn about focusing too much on wealth:

Matthew 6:19-21:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

1 Timothy 6:9-10:

"Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Proverbs 23:4-5:

"Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle."

Luke 12:15:

"Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'"

Ecclesiastes 5:10:

"Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless."

James 5:1-3:

"Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days."

For the record, I don’t think being rich is bad. It is indeed true that in the Bible there were followers of Christ who accumulated wealth. But cherry-picking such stories to imply that wealth and material glory is our destiny as followers of Christ does a major disservice to the faith. It undermines Christian teachings about humility, sacrifice, compassion and caring for the marginalized.

All people face difficulties. For the sake of this website, we focus on difficulties at work. Please introduce me to anybody who has worked for a few years and hasn’t been slighted, treated unfairly and experienced letdowns. That person doesn’t exist. Some disappointments are much more extreme – harassment, bullying and the loss of work. These experiences don’t necessarily mean that one is being punished for their lack of faith.

Adhering to any worldview with the expectation of material possessions is quite shallow. It is also so short-sighted. There were individuals in the Bible – and throughout history – who accumulated wealth, power and prestige yet were evil and terrible people. How would my Instagram “friend” and other prosperity gospel adherents explain this?

True prosperity, according to many Christian teachings, is found in a rich relationship with God and a life marked by love, humility, and service to others.

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