Devon Dick | Understanding US$5,000 sneakers on pastor’s feet
On Saturday, TVJ’s hosts Sakina Deer and Dwayne Extol interviewed a prophetess, a minister and a young Christian about United States ministers of religion wearing sneakers costing up to US$5,000.
Many of these ministers have adopted a more casual mode of dress for their church services, wearing jeans and t-shirts, even on Sunday mornings. Apparently, these pastors have shed traditional garments and their more relaxed look is aimed at attracting millennials and celebrities.
The prophetess defended the expense by stating something to the effect that Christians are called to be wealthy and were entitled to be wealthy, therefore, poverty should not be their lot. However, there is no entitlement to wealth. In fact, Paul said, “I have learnt to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11). The mature Christian finds fulfilment whether wealthy or poor.
Another argument from the prophetess was that the sneakers might be a gift to the pastor. Even if it were a gift, the pastor can decline to wear goods of ostentation because it might cause offence or send the wrong message (See 1 Cor. 8:13).
Remember, the reason some pastors wear a relaxed look is to send a message to a particular audience, so in the same manner, that pastor must be conscious about the message a US$5,000 sneakers sends to others. Furthermore, the gift might come with strings attached and so compromises the witness, or it might be a Trojan horse and does harm to the mission of God.
After the prophetess spoke, then the minister quoted, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). The minister must be careful about selective use of Scriptures, because that was the weapon Satan used in tempting Jesus.
It is fascinating how persons who believe in the prosperity gospel often go to the Old Testament for justification but do not have corresponding New Testament scriptures to support that position. It is as if Jesus had not died on the Cross, making a difference in how we interpret Scriptures and understand God.
It seems the minister is still under Law and not Grace. Since he is quoting the Old Testament, would he support the teaching that “at the end of every seven years you must cancel debts” (Deuteronomy 15:1)?
Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, said to the disciples “take nothing for your journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money” (Luke 9:3). Why didn’t the minister quote that passage?
Did not Jesus say it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:23), and did not Jesus tell the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and give to the poor (Luke 18: 22)? Jesus, by word and example, lived a simple life.
WORK OF THE DEVIL
To select one Bible verse to support a lavish lifestyle and not look at other passages to give a balanced biblical perspective is a scam and the work of the devil.
Those who promote the prosperity gospel of wealth and health are delusionary. All Christians are vulnerable to diseases and will succumb to death. Only the return of Jesus will save some. If every time we get healing for every sickness, then nobody will die.
Giving donations in order to get a financial blessing from God is to make the church into a Ponzi scheme. We give to the work of the Lord because God gave to us first and we are responding to God’s generosity.
Thankfully, the young Christian made the point that wealth ought to be used in the ministry of God. Indeed, God has given us gifts to be used so that God will be glorified and the Christians mature in the faith.
Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of ‘The Cross and the Machete’, and ‘Rebellion to Riot’. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com