Healing Power

Running commentary on how Jesus' Healing Power is affecting my life - and helping me to help others.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Church of the Warm Fuzzy

Two days ago, I wrote about Paul's sufferings for Christ. I referred to this passage, but today I will elaborate on it. There are many wildly popular preachers out there who preach a good message on good fortune. They constantly present a gospel of wealth and prosperity for all who will listen. And, I'm really not opposed to their core message. But many of them don't appear to realize that there is so much more to the gospel message than prosperity.

Where will their congregation be when beset by hard times? In what will the members put their faith when a test comes along? How will they be prepared for the "flaming arrows of the evil one" (- Ephesians 6:16)? When will they hear about the hard times that always accompany faithfulness?

Paul wrote the following to such a church in the city of Corinth:

Since you admire the egomaniacs of the pulpit so much (remember, this is your old friend, the fool, talking), let me try my hand at it. Do they brag of being Hebrews, Israelites, the pure race of Abraham? I'm their match. Are they servants of Christ? I can go them one better. (I can't believe I'm saying these things. It's crazy to talk this way! But I started, and I'm going to finish.)

I've worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death's door time after time. I've been flogged five times with the Jews' thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I've been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I've had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I've been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I've known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.
- 2 Corinthians 11:21-27, The Message

Oh, and don't forget about Acts 9:16, either. So, the church in Corinth was being led astray from the gospel by "egomaniacs" who presented a false gospel of unknown content (the content is irrelevant - all false gospel will fall under this category). These egomaniacs were pushing the Corinthians to abandon Paul's preachings because they were better than him. That is why Paul felt led to boast the way he did about everything he had suffered for Christ's name.

This is the problem I see with the gospel of prosperity. It leaves out all the stuff Jesus and Paul said about not being prosperous in this world. In Matthew 8:19-20, we find this:

a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."

Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
Does that look like prosperity to you? Animals have homes but Jesus does not. Can you follow this God that doesn't even have his own shelter?

I have personally experienced the lack of "stuff" as a result of being shaped by God the Blacksmith into the person He wants me to be. And, the funny thing is, I don't mind it. The computer on which I write this is a hand-me-down with Linux (a free system) installed. I can't afford to buy updates for Windows, but I can afford to get updates for Linux - 'cuz they're free! Before I dedicated my life to Christ, I understood that there would be lean periods in my life, and I was prepared to accept that. The only prosperity I'm promised is that "Mansion over the Hilltop". In the meantime, I've got whatever God gives me, and that includes the grace to be happy with the lack o' stuff.

I am very happy for the prosperous Christians. God has blessed them well. But where will they be if all that prosperity was gone? We are all disciples of Christ and "Satan has asked to sift [us] as wheat." That means we are going to be "Tempted and Tried" in an attempt to get us away from Christ. After all, Satan has no need to tempt the lost; he's already got them.

If you subscribe to the prosperity gospel that is so popular today, I implore you to read the Gospel of John for yourself. Read about Peter's Denials and his restoration. Read about the Stoning of Stephen. But those happened two-thousand years ago! What about modern-day persecution? Read about the persecution of overseas missionaries. OK - that's overseas. I live in the United States and I'm free to worship as I please. Unless you want to pray at a football game or read a bible at a courthouse or meet with fellow Christians at school.

I believe we are all given gifts of one sort or another by God. Some have been blessed with the wealth of this world so they can support those who do God's work without pay. But those who have been blessed with wealth need to be aware that one day it may all come crumbling down.

1 Comments:

  • At 6:21 AM, Blogger Simpsongirl said…

    I appreciate your thoughts here, Clay. Reminds me of the song, "The wise man built his house upon the rock...and the rains came tumbling down...but the wise man's house stood firm."

     

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