Over the summer, I have missed a small handful of Sunday services due to traveling and having the privilege to serve our Providence Kids one Sunday of each month (shameless plug for volunteering here). Fortunately, I’ve been able to follow along with the sermon series via weekly podcasts (shameless plug for catching up on podcasts here). But the one thing I’ve missed on these occasions is being a part of corporate worship – hearing and singing biblical truths together with the body of Christ (shameless plug for going to church… doesn’t have a link, just, you know… be reminded).
This Sunday, we sang a line on repeat that goes hand in hand with what we’ve been learning in Proverbs – “my wealth is in the cross.”
As Sean pointed out last week, the many references to wealth in the text of Proverbs, if we’re not careful, can read like a poster for the prosperity gospel. Sean talked about the dangers of prizing creation over our Creator last week, but this week’s sermon from our guest speaker Brent Stanfield served to balance us in the wake of those warnings, lest we let our doctrinal pendulum swing too far to the other end. Just as there is, for every action, an equal and opposite reaction, there is also for every heresy, an equally awful and opposite heresy – in this case, something I’ve heard called the “poverty gospel.”
Where the prosperity gospel elevates the gifts over the Giver, the poverty gospel adopts a forgetfulness of God’s giving nature entirely – elevating the dramatics of suffering woe and want for the sake of Christ over the delight of His great love for us (for help out of this pit, see Psalm 84:11, John 10:10, Romans 8:32, etc.). Both views are problematic for a number of reasons, not least of which because scripture can at times read like it really does lean one way or the other. The greatest help out of this paradox is that when you dig in and when you zoom out, the point is the same: it’s not about us either way.
Sunday, Brent pointed us to Colossians 1:16-17: “All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” When God is truly central in our hearts, as he is in all of reality, our gain (prosperity) and our loss (poverty) become inconsequential. God’s goodness cannot be categorized as a prosperity gospel or a poverty gospel because it’s not an earthly gospel – it’s a heavenly one.
When we read the myriad expressions of earthly, material wealth in Proverbs as Solomon encourages his son to “seek [wisdom] like silver” and “search for it as for hidden treasures” (2:4) … when he writes that the gain from wisdom is “better than gain from silver, and her profit better than gold” (3:14), we learn not that we must grow in wisdom to gain material riches, but that wisdom is itself a heavenly concept of wealth.
Jesus speaks to this in Matthew 6, as he teaches the crowd about laying up treasures in heaven. We’ve probably all seen verse 21 on a coffee mug, but it hits home just the same: “where your treasure is, your heart will be also.”
So the question becomes this: do we mean what we sang on Sunday? Can we really say that our treasure is in heaven – that our wealth is in the cross? Or are we seeking the wisdom of God for self-help/self-righteousness?
Let’s check our hearts against those questions this week. Let’s make this song our true anthem.