Evangelicals have rightly rejected the prosperity gospel. If you’re not familiar with this teaching, it’s an over realized eschatology. These false teachers proclaim that the promises of physical peace (health) and prosperity (wealth) which are promised for us in the new heavens and earth are ours now if we just claim them in the name of Jesus.
I have talked about the Scripture’s clear teaching on the matter of suffering elsewhere. We are never promised health and wealth in the not yet. We are promised quite the opposite that often our lives will be full of hardship and suffering. These things are so in the fallen world we live in.
As I was sitting in church two weeks ago and our pastor was introducing his message on Jesus in the Old Testament: Hosea. He asked some poignant questions. If you’re not a Christian but considering Christianity, what one thing could God do to push you over the edge? For many he said it might be receiving a promotion, the health of their child, or financial security.
He then asked the same question of Christians. If you confess that you believe in Jesus but are not actively pursuing fellowship with him more and more, what would it take for that to happen. Again would it be money, financial security, the health of a loved one, the removal of all your struggles, a better spouse? What would it be? Or maybe another way to ask it would be What one thing would you reject God for? Do you say I will follow you God as long as my children live within arm’s reach? Or maybe I will continue to follow you God as long as everything goes my way financially?
And it hit me. Although many of us would reject the health and wealth gospel, we often live practically as if we believe it’s the true gospel.
Earlier in my Christian walk it would have been a vibrant marriage. I didn’t say it out loud but in my heart I said to God I will continue to follow you God as long as my marriage is going well. But then my marriage crumbled. And as soon as the walls of Jericho came tumbling down, my idol was sitting there in the midst of the rubble.
And I became bitter at God for not giving me what I wanted.
Stories like these could be multiplied. Someone you know or yourself has a seemingly vibrant Christian walk until their loved one’s health fails, or they’re in financial ruin, or they’ve been abused badly by someone.
A caveat. All these situations rightly require a response. The response will often be painful because we are living in a fallen world. It will often require supplications to God for justice or mercy. We may rightly weep for our children who are rejecting Christ but all the while we must primarily seek Christ. He must be our uncracked cistern. Our fountain of joy.
Many of us only follow Jesus when he gives us health and wealth broadly. The true test of faith though is that the faith continues to flourish amongst the drought that will inevitably come.
The drought must drive us down to Egypt where the Son of God is alive and where there is barns filled with grace and peace.