The Bible is crystal clear when it informs us that during the course of our lives, there will be good times and bad, times of abundance and times of need, times of great joy and times of intense sadness, times of peace and times of war. The mistaken belief that once a person becomes a Christian all negatives and problems disappear has ruined more people's enthusiasm for the faith than any other thing.
What we have in Christ is internal and specifically deals with the sin problem and the corresponding separation from God that resulted from it. Being reconciled with God, given peace with Him and allowed to live in the grace of God are just a few of the incredible things we received when we got saved. We did not receive a blank check to unbridled greed and lust. We did not receive blanket promises that imply we never will face difficulties again in this life.
When studying the lives of First Century Christians, it is painfully apparent that most of those who really stood faithful in the faith suffered intense persecution and endured great trials and tribulations in their lives. Both the Jews and later the Romans hated the new Christian sect and sought to eliminate it from society. Saul breathed out threatening toward Christians and led them to their death before being converted to the very faith he sought to destroy.
When Paul relates the trials and tribulations he endured in 2 Corinthians 11, he did so with a view to a greater understanding of how the grace of God is our sufficiency and not people, jobs or bank accounts. Paul willingly laid aside all his earthy credentials, and following the example of his Lord Jesus Christ, he humbled himself and became obedient to the will of God, regardless of the cost.
I abhor the attacks on my faith by misguided teachers and preachers who advocate that unless a person is rolling in big bucks and walking in perfect physical health everyday of their lives, they are misguided or a horrible sinner. I growl with Godly indignation as people wearing $5,000 suits and $50,000 of jewelry tell poor people to give them their money so they can be blessed with financial prosperity.
To say Christianity is all about an abundance of money, perfect physical health, tons of things and contentment in the materialistic and carnal aspects of this world is a lie straight from hell. Christianity is all about what Jesus did for us and everything God has given to us in Christ. Christianity is all about the reconciliation, justification, redemption and sanctification resulting from the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Our Christian faith is in no way related to outward appearances, materialistic gain or that which impresses the world. Our faith is an inside reality that allows us to have fellowship with God, peace in the midst of the storm, the ability to love God and the assurance we have eternal life.
You know, as I read this, I could not help but recall the moment in this world when I absolutely felt the presence of God the strongest. I wasn't able to move. I was completely helpless and I could not even think! Suspended between life and death, unable to even cry out, God stepped down to where I was and surrounded me with His presence. You know what? Money, power and all the trappings of this world would do me absolutely no good. Yes, I was receiving medical attention and that does cost money but the reality of it is that regardless of what they did or did not do, life itself is in God's hands. Obviously I did survive, LOL! However, even those who fought to save my life were astonished at the outcome and called me a "miracle".
Christianity is not a dog and pony show and yet I fear that many have presented it as such. Whatever we receive from God is not so that we can brag about it and lord it over others. It is so that He might be glorified and so that people may come to know Him and the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10)!
blessingstoyou: Nicely stated and oh, so true. I can relate to what you said here. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like not to have the "Blessed Assurance" that Christ brings to our lives. For sure, He has blessed me with so many miracles and life-changing moments. How can I not speak of my Lord and praise the One Who gave so much to me. God bless.
B2y, I commend you for this message! From the start, God wanted the "humble" to deliver the message of salvation in order to shame the rich. That's also why the Lord Jesus Christ was "common" in appearence, so that people would believe for the sake of the message, and not because it was taught by an attractive messenger (Isaiah 53:2)!
It was L. Ron Hubbard who supposedly said if you want to get rich, invent a religion. It was God, through James, who said "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being poluted by the world" (James 1:27).
The true Christians are those with pure motives and humble hearts. They may or may not have money and wealth. However, regardless of possessions, regardless of hardships, regardless of anything else, they always remain in faithful service to God always...For this is the whole duty of man (Eccl. 12:13).
Keep on preaching, brother!
I wish I could merely say AMEN, for that conveys my agreement with you. but these rules demand 50+ words. I did my time in a huge church, and I was angered by the arrogance of the Pastor. Mind you he really did have a Doctorate, and he was running a fair sized corporation. Perhaps he deserved to get paid large sums, but I no longer have any desire to go there.
Thanks for sharing