>Does God favor the rich?
>I met Tony last night in Santa Monica. He was a very interesting man, probably in his late thirties and I talked with him for about an hour and a half. In the midst of our conversation, the topic of wealth and God came up again and again until we finally just addressed it specifically. Tony held that the wealthy are not only blessed but apparently favored by God, that financial provision was a sure sign of a life well-lived. He told me about a couple of pastors he knew and respected, largely due to their luxury cars, fine suits, and palace-like homes. He was particularly impressed with one pastor’s house, “in a very nice gated community.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Those very traits in a pastor generally turn my stomach. How could he respect these signs of prosperity as clear indications of God’s favor and a successful ministry when I see a minister indulging in wealth as a sign that portions of his heart still worship at the altar of Mammon?
If you are like me, you might be disappointed with Tony for his views on God and prosperity, but there is one thing you should know about him before you jump to conclusions: Tony is a homeless man.
The total mass of Tony’s earthly possessions can be carried in a backpack and a gunny-sack. Whereas I am a middle-class university student with a general disdain for the pursuit of wealth (ignoring my own consumption, of course), Tony the man without a home sees the wealthy as blessed and favored by God. While I cannot deny that material provision is indeed a blessing from God, I cannot justify tying it to God’s special favor.
I talked with Tony about the story of Job whom God loved so deeply and yet was so severely afflicted. We talked about Jesus who spent time with both the rich and the poor. We discussed the God-in-flesh Who had no place to call home.
At the end, I think both of our perspectives had changed a bit, but I am not yet sure what to make of it.