I would like to begin this new year with a warning. It is the ever-popular teaching that God’s purpose is to serve us at our every beck and call. I suppose I feel the need to do this because I so often hear sincere followers of Christ refer to these teachings as if they were biblical.
This perilous path of instruction postulates the “clever” notion that if the correct lever is pulled, heaven will release a watershed of “blessings” on the much deserving saint. Those who promote such ideology, tell their followers that all that is needed is enough faith or a well-oiled prayer life in order to “activate” God’s “destiny” for their lives. God is presented as a means to acquire the blessings of health, wealth and a life free from potholes. A “hedge” of protection is offered for good behavior. This false teaching is as appealing as a flower is to a bee.
“Name it and claim it, brother!”
These false teachers are easy to identify. Dazzling crowds with new teachings, never before “revealed,” these modern-day prophets of prosperity draw attention to their self-assigned authority rather than declare biblical truth. After claiming that they possess the “anointing,” whatever they speak is instantly raised to the level of Scripture. A “word from the Lord” is “prophesied” by the “anointed one,” without the Bible ever being opened, and if it is, the passage of Scripture presented is twisted out of measure to the degree that it does not even resemble its original message. Carnality is right at home in this self-serving, self-glorifying environment. How did we get so far away from the true gospel of Christ?
Following Christ has nothing to do with filling our bank accounts, granting our dreams or healing every aching joint. The life that God offers us is not centered in our pursuit of pleasures or prosperity. If it were, God owes an apology to the Old Testament saints, New Testament apostles, and the majority of early Christians. If Christianity were about Paul’s comfort then the “thorn” in his flesh would have been instantly removed. If the goal of the Gospel was to cater to our every whim, then the martyrs of the church, in all ages, were obviously wrong to lay down their lives.
It is important at this point to stop and ask some tough questions. Are we chasing after God with ulterior motives? In other words, is our pursuit of Jesus nothing more than a well-designed attempt to advance our own selfish ends? Have we become master negotiators in the spiritual realm, promising God our obedience in exchange for His blessings?
A proper understanding of grace will transform our values and reorganize our priorities. By focusing on the life of Jesus in us, the orientation of our lives will progressively shift away from self and onto the person of Jesus Christ. This radical reversal from self-serving concerns to God-glorifying desire is the result of spiritual growth. The longer we walk with Christ, the greater our thirst should be for Him and His will for our lives. Concern for our own desires will die a beautiful death.