The Blessed Life
The promise of a life filled with healthy days and full pockets might be a very enticing message, but at the end of the day it is not only a lie but an enormous road block in the way of the Gospel. One popular author in the “Word of Faith” movement writes: “It’s God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It’s God’s will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt. It’s God’s will for you to live in health and not in sickness all the days of your life.” While this sounds like a wonderful promise, it is not the reality that the scripture portrays. As we saw in I Peter, the Christians of the first century were being treated in very horrific ways from social and financial ruin to public stoning and crucifixion. There’s no doubt that if these authors attempted to sell their books to the early church they would not be on the best-seller list. Ryan brought up a great point this past week when he said that Peter “doesn’t tell the church that their best life is now, but he does tell them they can have their blessed life now in the midst of suffering.”
Word of Faith
Though you may think that the topic of the ‘Word of Faith’ movement among many confessing evangelical churches is old news, the truth is that one of the most popular teachers holding to this view averages upwards of 40,000 people in weekly attendance of his church. Thousands of people pack into this stadium sized venue to hear men and women propagating the idea that Christians have the ability to effectively command God to give them what they want by simply confessing it aloud in ‘faith’. This teaching, that God is more like a genie than a creator, is far from harmless, in fact it can be horrifically destructive. Teaching that it is God’s will for a person to have all of life’s comforts can only lead to disappointment and confusion towards God, when the reality of our fallen world takes its toll. The true gospel becomes marginalized while our cultural obsession for narcissism is subtly nurtured under the banner of false biblical teaching.
A Difficult Calling
In I Peter 3:9, the apostle says
“Do not repay evil for evil, or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
We have been called to be like Jesus, embodying His loving approach to people, His hatred for sin, and ultimately His suffering. We have been called to endure reviling, persecution, poverty, and social exile in order that we may not repay evil for evil but rather love others. It is not that we might endure persecution; it is that, on some level, we will have to endure it, but through it all we glorify God. That’s the power of the Gospel; not some quasi-Jesus in John 15:20 says,
“Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”
Why should we expect long lives full of health and wealth if our own divine savior did not receive that?
The people that the apostle Peter is addressing can live a blessed life while also living an impoverished, difficult, and sometimes torturous life style because their example is not millionaires in private jets, but rather our humble servant-God, Christ Jesus. The gospel doesn’t grant us wishes; it grants us that which we should wish for most but are too short sided to ask for: eternal salvation. Jesus said it perfectly: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We are not called to a comfortable life, but we are called to a conquering life in Christ.