Just the other day Cameron and I were talking about our disdain for the Health & Wealth Jesus of Prosperity Gospel. I have a big problem with a gospel taught that says that God wants me to drive a new car because Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a new donkey. Maybe God wants me to start hanging around 12 dudes, learn carpentry and drive some pigs off cliffs because those are all things Jesus did. The more I learn about the Jesus that I serve and the Christian life, the more I learn that God didn't make Christianity easy. In fact, sometimes it sucks. Yep, I said SUCKS. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it gets you killed. Jesus will get you killed. Jesus will get you mocked. Jesus will make your life the opposite of what all us Americans are looking for: UNCOMFORTABLE. Oh yes, there is comfort in salvation and my savior, but there is no comfort in this world.
Every day I wake up to a glaring part of my life that hurts. My heart hurts always for one person. My heart is heavy for this one person because I deeply love this person because Jesus loves this person and Jesus' heart hurts because of this person. Jesus' heart longs for this person to know Him. Do you know what that's like? To grieve every day for a person you love so dearly that it hurts like hell? Yeah, well that's part of knowing Jesus.
You know what else is part of knowing Jesus? Going without so that you can give. We could have 10% more in our bank account if we didn't give money to our church to help support missionaries and ministries. I don't always see an exponential growth because of it. My "faith seed" (as I've seen it advertised on TV) has not given me back ten-fold. I must be worshiping Jesus wrong. Tithing isn't always a win-win situation. Sometimes it's a suck it up and give it to people who have less than us situation.
One more thing about my life, I have (now popular to have because it's got a pill to buy ) Fibromyalgia. That one has never cleared up. I'm overweight, I have stretch marks up and down my body and I have an extra vertebrae in my back and they rub together. Clearly I don't love Jesus enough because He hasn't taken care of my physical issues. Where am I going wrong if the Jesus of prosperity Gospel should be taking care of these things? Is my faith wrong? Am I wrong? Do I not have enough faith?
Here's the problem... once again humans have decided to make God about them, not themselves about God. God is not waiting to do stuff to make our lives more like a copy of Martha Stewart Living: tidy, organized and color coded. Whenever we try to take charge of our salvation or walk with Christ, we dishonor God and the final word of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. When we add or take away from the gospel we shame it. When we Americanize Jesus and make him a gun-toting Republican in the image and likeness of Ronald Regan, we do Jesus a disservice. When we say Jesus would have driven a Bently and wants us all to be wealthy, we do Jesus a disservice. When we decide that Jesus was a Socialist and would want us all to follow what Marx had to say, we're doing Jesus a disservice. When we decide that Jesus on the cross wasn't enough for our sins and we should probably toss in some good works, we are mocking His death and doing Jesus a disservice.
Jesus came into this world as a human. A tired human. A sick human. A grieving human. Jesus felt the way we feel. He felt the crap that this world has to offer. The shortest verse in the Bible says everything about the humanity of Christ and the hurt of the world He came to save: Jesus wept. Take off your bumper sticker, happy faced Christianity and know that Christian life isn't always fantastic. It's okay to say that, too. Have you browsed Ecclesiastes lately? Have you ever read Job without skipping to the end where he gets all his stuff back? Life sucks and the Bible is the first to admit to that.
Jesus does give me joy and life. Jesus is my hope. This world is bitter and Jesus is sweet. Wealth and health are idols in this world and we're told not to have any gods before our God. Not little gods before BIG GOD. Last year my friend Talicia lost her Mom after a surgery. Did Aldeana not love Jesus enough to come out of the coma? No. Aldeana loved Jesus enough to have that surgery. She won either way. If she woke up or if she stayed asleep. How angry it makes me to think that Prosperity Pastors would say that Aldeana didn't have enough faith to be healed.
Keith Green wrote some good CHURCH songs. I hope you know what I mean when I say CHURCH. I mean his songs take you into the presence of God. They make you humble, they make you realize who is in charge. Keith lived for Jesus with his whole heart. You want to know where Keith is today? Is he rich? Is he famous? Does he have a big house in Nashville? No. He's in heaven. He died in a plane crash at the age of 28 with two of his children, Josiah and Bethany. That's not exactly prosperity. He left behind a pregnant wife and a little daughter. How do you explain that? He was doing it all for Jesus and he still died. That's what I mean- following Jesus gets messy. It's not so clear cut and it's not about you.
If we are to be torch bearers and carry the light of Jesus into this world, what does that light entail? Does it entail all your earthly problems being solved or does it simply mean this: To live is Christ and to die is to gain. There isn't anything else in this world that matters like the truth and love of Jesus. The gospel is so simple, so perfect, so pure. Let's not muck it up with our ideals and our earthly desires.