The Strength of a Country

January 20

Deuteronomy 8:18 But you must remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to get wealth, so that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is today.

Meditation: Paula White, who will pray at the inauguration today is the personal pastor of the incoming president. She believes in prosperity. “Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith. This is believed to be achieved through donations of money, visualization, and positive confession.” (Wikipedia)

The Jewish tradition is being (ab)used to legitimize such theology that is then being mixed with capitalist ideas. For Christians this (ab)use of the notion of atonement is the opposite of how we understand Jesus Christ’s life and mission. Martin Luther exactly 500 years ago accused the Catholic church of using people’s money to promise them “Heaven” as the afterlife. Today people are being used politically as they seek material happiness as they want “Heaven on Earth”. Luther countered: “Not through our works or money do we find atonement.” Christ chose to live in poverty. Wealth is a gift that we are meant to share with those less fortunate than ourselves. Jesus knew sickness and death and did not see them as curses, but as part of our human condition that God entered and came to heal – not through money, positive thinking or donations. But through God’s presence of unconditional love and grace.

Prayer: Gracious God, we often think that money will solve our problems. We start worshipping the gifts instead of you, as the giver of good gifts. In our human fear we try to gain power and security through wealth. Remind us that you are the giver of everything. Remind us that no amount of money can overcome the fact that we are vulnerable human beings and that happiness and inner peace can’t be found in consumerism. Amen

Quote: “The prosperity of a country depends, not on the abundance of its revenues, nor on the strength of its fortifications, nor on the beauty of its public buildings; but it consists in the number of its cultivated citizens, in its (women and) men of education, enlightenment and character.” Martin Luther

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