An Apology from Your Prosperity Preacher.
By Eddie Ssemakula
It’s been interesting to see how everyone responds to COVID-19, from WhatsApp conspiracists to self-proclaimed experts. Opinions abound. With them, ignorance. But the people who I desire to hear something from, more than anyone else, are those in the health and wealth movement. Prosperity preachers. Ministers renowned for making inflated claims about this earthly life with promises of material blessing and positive confessions. What will they say? I’ve wondered what an honest prosperity preacher would say when they come to terms with the biblical reality slapping all of us in the face. But no one has, yet. So below is an imagined apology for ignoring what the Bible teaches and our present reality reveals.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hate to spoil the party, but this is not the 2020 we promised in December 2019. Actually, it just hit us that God is in heaven and he does whatever he wishes (Psalms 115:3). We have realised that the Jesus we pronounce as someone dying to enrich you was actually a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). He understands our sorrows, even experiencing death. But he died for sins and not cents. So, no more guarantees of him cushioning your earthly life. To be honest, anything looks possible now.
About your Health…
To those who were excitedly anticipating our healing crusade next week, we regret to inform you that it won’t be happening. We just discovered that Isaiah 53 (especially verse 5) means God is most concerned with the “sin disease.” He did something about that. But he did not promise physical health for believers. So we apologise. Yes, God heals. So we should pray that he does. But he responds on his own terms, he is not bound by our timing. We will continue to pray for the sick. But we won’t televise it.
Since we are making apologies, we ask that you also forgive us for announcing the overnight meeting next week. We have decided to obey the government and cancel it because we actually just noticed that the government is given by God (Romans 13:3). Apologies that we initially acted out of gross biblical ignorance, disobeying God by dismissing the rulers he put in place. On a related note, we as the church would like to advise you that we are not competent to tackle this pandemic. Please trust and listen to the health experts and government. Wash your hands, keep social (not relational) distance and stay home. That spirit ‘leading you around town’ is unlikely the Holy Spirit.
A Word on Prophecy…
That prophet who you listen to regularly on Tuesday nights will be unavailable for the next four weeks. For we need to explore whether his office is still essential or even biblical. This is because we realised all believers possess the “sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19), referring to the Old Testament. Fulfilling that was the work of Christ and the New Testament. So we have a word sufficient for the people of God. Again, heartfelt apologies. We also want to apologise that the prophet did not foresee this global disaster. Yes, he did promise us “something massive is coming this year”. But it seems he was somewhat wide of the mark, since he told us we should be excited about it. We regret such hasty speech.
There is a lot more we could go into: speaking in tongues, the selling of healing oil and sowing financially in faith in order to reap hundredfold. Sadly, though unsurprisingly, it seems little has come of all that. We are going to take some time, and encourage you too, to reflect on God’s sovereignty and our own silliness. Hopefully normality will resume. But we’re not making any promises. At least, not any that God hasn’t already made.
About your Wealth…
Please accept our honest apology for the unbiblical excesses we have sold you. In the future we hope to serve you better in faithfully interpreting and teaching the Bible. It seems that the end of this is spiritual health rather than material wealth. We are sorry that we let itching ears determine our preaching for so long (2 Timothy 4:3). It kept us from helping you see that this is a Genesis 3 world. It is broken, disease prevails and healings aren’t certain. Yet we can still trust God to wipe away every tear in the age to come (Revelation 21-22).
God is still the only wise and sovereign. Therefore no human tongue can twist his arm. Let’s rest in knowing he is able to bring about his purposes, even in the worst of situations. In the coming few weeks, please use your tithes and offerings to help those in need as you share the good news of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Don’t forget to invite them to a whole new kind of biblical church experience after COVID-19. While on the topic of tithing, we apologise to those who felt pressured by us to give over the years.
Though this is a strange season it has brought significant reflection, and repentance. We are excited by God’s sobering truths in the Bible. May he continue to work in rescuing many more from our materialist, worldly and ultimately pathetic gospel.
Your (former) apostle, recovering in Christ.
This post originally appeared on the Gospel Coalition Africa Website.
Eddie Ssemakula is an impassioned Ugandan blogger and digital journalist working and living in Kampala, Uganda. He is curious about Apologetics and the intersection of Christian discipleship with post-modern African culture. Eddie serves as a deacon at Sojourn Church Uganda and blogs on faith and worldview at muleefu. He is married to Rhionah and they have two daughters: Mercedes and Kara.