Guest Author: Jeremy Kunchandy
“YOU ARE DESTINED FOR SUCCESS!” shouts the preacher. *crowd claps* “GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HEALTHY!” *crowd cheers * “GOD WANTS YOU TO BE WEALTHY!” *crowd erupts* “SIMPLY GIVE AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN TO YOU A HUNDRED FOLD!” *crowd begins throwing money into the offering basket* *preacher grins from ear to ear* *fireworks go off on stage* *Aloe Blacc’s “I Need a Dollar” blares through the sound system* *random dump truck shows up out of nowhere and dumps a tsunami of cash onto the preacher *
Okay I admit, maybe I exaggerated a bit towards the end… However, minus the dump truck, Aloe Blacc, and fireworks, sermons like this are actually quite the common fare in today’s culture. Not only are they very common, they’re widely accepted as truth from the very ones who call themselves followers of Him who lived in poverty and died being crucified between two criminals.
Now without going off on a tangent, here are a few passages taken directly from the Bible that conflict with the previous “dolla dolla balla balla” scenario.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? | Matthew 16:24-26
…imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. | 1 Timothy 6:5-9
Without going into a full-out exegesis of these passages, it’s still fairly obvious what God is telling us. The Christian walk isn’t an easy one. We are never guaranteed an abundance of success, health, or material wealth. Just look at the lives of many of the believers who lived after Christ left. They were scorned, beaten, and even murdered. With the exception of Christ Himself, I always like to look back on the Apostle Paul’s description of his life as a Believer.
Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure… | 2 Corinthians 11:24-27
These are not the words popularly lauded among many in the Church today…
“Prosperity Gospel” aside, it is important for us to attack the root of the problem and ask ourselves, “Do I really understand what I believe? Or am I simply a driver without a Roadmap?”
We live in an age when most of us have free access to the Bible, as well as a countless number of Biblical resources. Yet, many of us within the Church itself are still so easily swayed to fallacy covered under a heavy misting of perfume known as “Essence of Christianity.” As Believers, it is absolutely critical that we invest significant time studying the Word. As depressing as it is seeing people reject the Gospel of Christ, it is just as depressing seeing people who call themselves Christians, who after years in the Church, are still living in their old lifestyles, and are unable to discern even the most basic of Biblical truths. Paul the Apostle writes of people like this in 1 Corinthians 3:2,
I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready…
In this passage, Paul is expressing his disappointment towards the Corinth Church due to the lack of growth in their lives… On the opposite end of the spectrum we have Christians such as the Bereans, a group of believers who, as Acts 17:11 says,
…received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Not only did they receive what they heard eagerly, but they also dived into, and studied what was given to them. Another positive example is the church in Colossae. Paul said to them,
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. | Colossians 1:3-10
Perhaps one of the most saddening reality checks for many Believers in today’s age is that despite the plethora of Biblical material we have freely available to us, many of us are still living as “infants” in Christ. Unable to consume the deep and rich “meat” of the Bible because of the lack of quality time we set to study it. Not only that, but how many of us, even after studying the Scriptures and understanding its commands, go completely against much of what is so obviously stated? Do we have any valid excuse standing before our Omniscient and Omnipotent God for either of these shortcomings?
So ultimately, my hope in typing this article, as I sit here fervently pounding away at my Hot Cheetos laced keyboard from the corner of my dimly lit college dorm room, is that it acts as a wake up call, not only for you but for myself as well. So that together, as the Body of Christ, we may continue to grow, diligently studying the Roadmap God has put before us, using it to flourish and produce fruit. My prayer is that we would do this because of what the Lord Jesus Christ did for us two thousand years ago, coming down as the Son of God, facing immeasurable hardships, paying the price for our sins by dying on a Cross, and rising again to create us an eternal home with Him.