Why is it that we believe that we deserve blessings?
For some reason, as followers of Christ, we’re terrible about assuming that because we have Christ in our hearts, God will bless us.
Some people rely on it– the idea that prosperity and happiness come because of faith.
The movement is called the Prosperity Gospel, or the Word of Faith Movement.
Yes, it’s a real thing.
It’s not just a mental thing– believing that we deserve riches and happiness because we love Jesus.
No, there’s a real movement– an official one within Christianity, that preaches this message from the pulpit:
Jesus = prosperity and happiness.
Sadly, as the evangelists within this movement travel the world preaching this message, people who suffer from the worst conditions of poverty on the planet are buying into it.
They see these “wealthy, white” preachers telling them, “Hey! Jesus loves you! He wants to give you everything you want and make you happy! Jesus is wealth!”
Preachers dressed in alligator skinned boots. Preachers with cash in their pockets. Preachers with healthy families and big homes in America.
Think about it. You’re in impoverished Africa. Wouldn’t you want that Jesus, too?
And so you jump on this “Prosperity Gospel” bandwagon and decide that Jesus is your guy.
And you wait. You wait for money to rain down on you, because of course when that happens, you will be happy.
But it doesn’t happen.
There’s no money.
There’s no happiness.
There’s only the same disease-ridden water hole 5 miles from your hut, little food to eat, and too many children, sick children, to support.
So you give up on Jesus and you won’t try him again. He did nothing for you.
This, my friends, is happening more than you know. Thousands upon thousands of people in the poorest parts of the world are being evangelized by those of the “prosperity movement”, only to become disillusioned with Jesus when “he” doesn’t come through and make it rain cash.
It’s happening right here, too. Third-world nations aren’t the only ones susceptible to the tantalizing idea that Jesus = prosperity. First-worlders are clinging to this promise in droves, too.
What these people are not being told is that nowhere in the Bible does God promise that we’ll be financially blessed for following Christ. Nowhere are we promised the things these people are offering the impoverished world, both overseas and here at home.
“But Jen,” you might say. “What about Psalm 37:4?”
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Well, it just so happens, lovely reader, that that verse is my favorite and has always been.
But the correct understanding of that verse is not that loving God and his Son will bring us the fleshly desires of this earth, but that true discipleship brings our heart’s desire of God himself and His will before our own.
Both Matthew and Luke documented the moment when Christ commanded, “take up your cross and follow me.”
Crosses are heavy.
Jesus suffered under the weight of his. Even if he hadn’t already been beaten and bruised prior to dragging his cross to the place of his execution, he would have been intensely burdened under the weight of it.
And as his followers, we are commanded to take up our own “burden” of the cross in order to follow him.
That cross represents the persecution we will face.
It represents the hardships and trials that do not vanish when we accept Christ as our Savior.
It represents the health problems and strenuous labor, the toil of humanity.
It represents the financial burdens of this earthly life.
It represents the pain, hardships, and sorrow that we all face at some point or another.
It represents the death we deserve, but Christ took in our stead.
But the GOOD NEWS is that the cross isn’t a burden– it also represents the joy and redemption Christ’s death and resurrection provide.
It represents the wealth and joy of an eternity with HIM.
Prosperity is earthly.
Our treasures are being laid up in heaven (Matthew 6:19).
Happiness is a fleeting human emotion.
Happiness dies in the face of hardship. We are not strong enough to keep it alive through difficulties, trials, sickness or poverty.
But joy lives in us at all times. It’s not something we create, so we can’t kill it.
…the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
Joy comes from deep in our core, from the place where the Holy Spirit dwells. It originates with the presence of Christ in us; from the moment we decide to take up that cross.
My cross is heavy. I struggle with the fleshly idea that because I’m a follower of Christ I deserve more than I’ve gotten.
But the only thing I deserve is the death of a sinful criminal.
Thank God I’ve decided to follow the One who took that punishment for me.
So I take up my cross, no longer straining under it’s weight, for there’s One with me who is stronger than I will ever be. In Him I will find joy eternal.
Share with me: Has your cross been feeling exceptionally heavy lately? How can I pray for you?
If you are interested in sharing the true Gospel of Jesus with the world by being a blessing of joy, consider supporting a faith-based organization like WorldHelp. Click on the link to the right of this blog.
*** After I wrote this post I came across this article— a fellow blogger and preacher who just so happened to post about this exact topic this week. I hope you’ll take the time to read his thoughts, too. Good stuff.