“Hey did you hear Joel Osteen, he has such an uplifting message?!” No I did not, no. Yeah, yeah, God wants me to be “happy, wealthy, healthy, and prosperous.” He and other ministers of the flesh proclaim such. “Wait, Evan, aren’t you being rather critical, rather unkind?” No, and here’s why.
Our God is an incredible God, Maker, Sustainer, and Redeemer! He blesses us everyday with unmerited favor and grace. He feeds the masses, provides water, sunlight and all good things to all humanity. We are all living with the unearned prosperity of the Father given to unworthy creatures.
My big issue is in so demeaning the cross of my Savior. Jesus did not come so I could have all my fleshly desires fed: focus on material health and the accumulation of stuff. Scripture declares in 1 John 2:15-17, that:
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but from the world. The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God remains forever”
This world system is passing away with all its sinful indulgence! Our Lord came to save sinners from eternal punishment. To free us from the power of sin, death, and the devil. That is the gospel, not the indulgence of the flesh!
Jesus rejected the ways of our wayward world. The message of the cross and empty tomb is redemption FROM this world. The ruler of this world, our adversary is defeated in Christ. To peddle the enemies wears and label them as holy is disgusting! Our God calls us to self control, to denial of self, to pick up our cross and follow.
What does Christianity offer if not prosperity you may ask? We’re promised eternity with our Lord and redeemer and freedom from the vices of life. We escape eternal punishment by the Unblemished Lambs sacrifice. The fear and sting of death is removed.
Oh, and we’re promised persecution, rejection by society and hardship. The early Church dealt daily with these realities.
Perhaps it’s because we’ve been so blessed in America not experiencing severe persecution that we have perverted the gospel? “I got really persecuted today” somebody mocked me.*sigh. I’m not hoping for persecution by any means, I’m thankful to openly worship my God. But perhaps we need a wakeup call as believers. It is not for this world that we have been redeemed! We are to be salt and light in the midst of moral filth surrounding us. We are to stand firm in the faith no matter the cost.
We prosper in Christ because we have legitimate hope. Because we are freed from and reject materialism and greed and love of self. We follow the Savior.
“But understand this: In the last days terrible times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Turn away from such as these!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me'” (Matthew 16:24)
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18).
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39).
“Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships, and calamities; in beatings, imprisonments, and riots; in labor, sleepless nights, and hunger; in purity, knowledge, patience, and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, slander and praise; viewed as imposters, yet genuine; as unknown, yet well-known; dying, and yet we live on; punished, yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:4-10).
“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
Dear Father God, please forgive us for our many sins. The Savior called us to deny self and follow. We confess we go with the world rather than fighting against it. Please forgive us for our greed, pride and perversion of your Word. We ask, Loving God that you please rise up the true Church. Please outrage us over the state of modern day Chrianity. May the true gospel be preached, may false peddlers be quieted. You alone are God, we love and adore! In Jesus’ name. Amen