|Kong Hee and Prosperity|
Deut 28:11 And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. 12 The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lordyour God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. 14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
In this season of Pastor Kong Hee bashing, and CHC Cyber gangs responding in kind, the truth is that we are often no different from Pastor Kong, except that is for his Sentosa Cove home.
I once visited a Methodist church (said to be the riches in Singapore!). I thought to myself that my friend was advertising his wealth driving there in a Mercedes, but when we reached there, the minimum entry was a Mercedes. It was a "poor man's" car in the church carpark amidst all the BMWs, Jaguars, Audi and Ferrari.
They are after all living the Singaporean dream according to the "Singapore National Pledge" - ".... to build a democratic society based on justice and equality so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation". But surely true prosperity is when there is justice and equality for those at the margins of society, so that all are included.
My boyfriend and I often tease each other reminded of pastor Kong's teaching that we are the head and not the tail ie we should be the top not the bottom. But alas, we often complained about being the bottom - not able to afford the good restaurants, business class airtravel, visits to exotic foreign lands aptly broadcasted by friends through the facebook.
"Pray harder" I would tease my friend as we faced lack and sometimes in despair told him to "buy more lottery!". I told him that he only got me because he didn't pay enough of the CHC building fund. We laughed.
I remember a good City Harvest Friend who literally gave his all to CHC. He was a good straight Christian as compared to me! He didn't have much and went from one job to another but somehow ended up as a Deputy GM of a large company. God is indeed faithful when we put Him first in our lives (for some that is).
My successful CHC friend was street smart and cunning whilst me a gentle lamb grazing beside still waters and enjoying the presence of God. I am often amazed at the number of property and insurance agents at CHC. The rich begets the rich I guess.
In my current church, we have not talked about Prosperity theology in the last century but only about social justice and queer things which is the calling of the church. But it's good to be "inclusive" and visit other churches I had once upon attended such as CHC, and NCC.
I had complained to God when I last visited City Harvest Church and Pastor Kong talked about prosperity. "Here we go again...." I sarcastically murmured to God. I heard the smiling voice of Jesus, a very gentle voice, asking me:-
a. Who do I gave to when I gave to CHC? God obviously - i said.
b. What was my total wealth then? Not much - i replied.
c. How many times the wealth I have today! err ... God trapped me! The question was unfair for I have so little back then and I gave more than 30% of my entire "wealth" to the CHC building fund. Yet, God is no man's debtor. He did provide and I am alive today.
In CHC, Prosperity is us becoming successful to succeed in God's purpose for our life. Prosperity is having continued success. And there is some truth for without resources the church could not have grown to 33,000. Similarly, without a house of our own, how do we have cell group! we can't follow Jesus and go to deserted parks singing Hallelujahs!
In practise, "Prosperity" sounds very close to "Property" where we store up our treasures and build large castles - even at the very heart of the central business district around the fountain of wealth. Too much money can also consume us and take us away from God's purpose in our life.
Pastor Kong/Yongi Cho said - "Bigger ministeries can do more to help the poor and needy". And City Harvest did great work to help the needy elderly, the intellectually disabled, the HIV sufferers, etc.
How much we give to the needy - more often a token sum as we yearn after our dreams and stardom to become a mega star in addition to a mega pastor. In the bible, the poor woman gave it all, but the rich religious Pharisees gave very little.
Mat 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Mat 16:24-26 is about the Pharisees/ people of faith who used religion to store up wealth and power instead of having wealth in heaven. They didn't deny themselves, but lived in luxury in the cities whilst Jesus went around the desert places - dirty, soiled, and burned under the hot sun.
The Pharisees had so little in common with Jesus who lived a life of simplicity that they can't even identify Jesus out of the masses (peasants!) requiring an insider to correctly identify Jesus.
Jesus gave His all, gave His life that as we deny ourselves in admitting that we are sinners and could not rescue ourselves, His death becomes our own death. His resurrection life becomes ours. If we were so heavy with gold and silver on earth, we cannot fly to heaven.
Perhaps, we need to let go some extra baggages of gold and silver to get a lift off. If the mega churches gave away 30% of their wealth to charity, a massive Christian revival will flood Singapore bigger than the Orchard floods.
Deut 39: 2 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did,
"If the Lord is with you, you will prosper". With the presence, there is prosperity. With God's presence and work in our lives, we will see prosperity hopefully within our lifetime.
Are we good Christians? if we were just surviving, with no time for ourselves, for our family, or for God. We live just to eat, sleep, work and die!. We just survive rather than having a purpose and destiny for God! Yet, for most, our lot is just to survive as we look forward to rest in heaven's peaceful shores!
What happens when we do not prosper? For often prosperity is determined by circumstances beyond us - our family, society and nation that we belong to. If we were from a rich family, we can have good education, and a head start in life. But for many, a miracle is needed.
When the seekers of God came to Jesus in the middle of the desert (and you have to be desperate and poor to go there ...), He smiled at them and instead of pronouncing them faithless and being the "tail" and not the "head", Jesus proclaimed that they were blessed.
We are blessed when we seek after God with all our soul, spirit and might for the presence of God itself is a blessing. They were blessed because they saw Jesus, when we had to wait to goto heaven.
Pro 11: 25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Ps 35:27 Let them shout for joy and be glad, Who favor my righteous cause; And let them say continually, “Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” 28 And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness And of Your praise all the day long.
Prosperity will come our way one day - not to live in houses of Gold but to have time, and space to enjoy life, relationships, and to love and be loved. It is to have no lack but sufficient to live and to bless others.
And when we do get rich and prosperous one day, let us remember to praise and worship God and be generous and seek a righteous cause for justice and equality. For when we are given much, much is expected of us.