A friend of mine made a Facebook post referencing a tweet from Paula White, the Florida pastor and prosperity preacher, in which she tweeted, “God has #DivineConnections to bring you to your next level of living!” When I read that tweet I’m left with “wha … hunh!?” I don’t even begin to understand what any of that means. I realize it is a tweet, which limits the number of characters you can use to express something to your audience. Even still, if you are going to use the medium you should do so in such a way that one can grasp what you’re saying. Or maybe that is the point. Maybe the goal is to be so vague that it can mean any number of things to any number of people. Given Paula’s background as a prosperity preacher, perhaps the “next level of living” God intends to bring to someone refers to some sort of material gain, or increase in one’s faith that will lead to material gain or physical well-being. I’m not sure, but one of the persons who left a comment desperately wants whatever this “next level of living” is (“What is it, please tell me”).
When I read that comment I had two reactions. One was a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. My heart went out to this person, who if they are being genuine desperately believes Paula knows something that he needs; something that will make his life better than it is at the moment. Second, I wondered if this person was being sarcastic. I hope the latter is the case, because if the former is the case then this person is deluded into thinking Paula White has some sort of knowledge the rest of us don’t. This person and Paula have bought into Gnostic ideas of knowledge. Gnosticism, which had its greatest influence in the earliest centuries of the church’s founding, taught among other things, that its adherents earned salvation through special knowledge. Now while Paula may not affirm this, I believe she would state that salvation is secured through Christ alone, the idea that she has something that others do not possess, and that only she can relate it to others is a form of Gnosticism and out of step with biblical Christianity. All Christians have God’s Word, the Bible, which is authoritative and truthful in all in affirms. Those who are filled with God’s Spirit may study Scripture for themselves and understand what God desires for them. It isn’t a secret. God isn’t hiding anything from any of us, not when it comes to his revealed will. What he desires of us, what he wants of all Christians is for them to be holy (1 Pet 1:16). He wants us to be Christlike (1 John 2:6). God’s desire for us is to one day stand before him blameless in Christ Jesus (Eph 5:25–27; Heb 12:14; Rev 14:4–5). Holiness is what he is after and this is what he works to cultivate in us through the power of the Spirit. And the way to holiness isn’t by waiting with baited breath for the words of someone who claims divine insight beyond the grasp of us mere mortals, but it is through the regular means of grace, like the study of Scripture, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16–17).
God has already revealed our “next level of living” and it is growth in godliness by God’s grace (Eph 4:21–24).