Sunday, March 06, 2016

The religion Of Success Called Christianity?

I am the first one to admit that we serve a God who is nothng but abundant in all that He does. Simply read through all that went into the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus and you will see what I mean. The gold alone used to create all the material goods in the tabernacle, based on today's spot prices, is somewhere around $15 million US. In fact it tells us that they used a 75lb brick of gold just to create the lampstand! I could just imagine the screams of "Shame, Shame, Shame" that would arise today if it was announced that a local church was going to spend $15 million in furnishing it's new building! Unfortunately people will look at sections of Scripture like this and use it for all sorts of warped ideas around wealth and Christianity--including spending untold millions on facilities that sit empty most of the week--but at least they feed someone's ego! In North America we have turned Christianity into nothing much more than some success cult where the Bible is nothing more than Aladdin's magic lamp and if we rub it the right way, say a few magic words, voila! God has to go to work for us. However, Jesus had a different take on what God would and wouldn't do for us. In Matthew 7:7 in the Message says, "Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need." That's pretty clear and dry. It's too bad that a lot of Christians seem to miss out on this as well. Yes God is more than willing to give us what we need and we are not to fret about it. In fact Jesus gets pretty serious when he reminds the group to not doubt God--my goodness, if we, as humans know how to look after our children, don't you think that the God of the universe can do the same for us--obviously it becomes an issue of trust. Well if all I have to do is ask God, isn't that a great recipe for success? Doesn't that mean that God is at my beckon call? However, a little further down Jesus says, "The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. 14 The way to life--to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention." 15 "Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character." Doesn't this sound like much of the church today. Just show up and we will give you an easy little formula that you can then live your life by. In fact, you don't even have to bring your Bible. Better yet, you can have all of this for only 7 minutes a day. And boy do the crowds fall for it. Yet Jesus very quickly tells us that the life that leads to God is vigorous and requires our full attention--not that our salvation is based on works--it is not, but to live this life in a way that is honoring to God will require you to undergo persecution. It is going to take effort and persistence. Unfortunately, much of that persecution is going to come from fellow believers. Yes the world system may cause us some grief from time-to-time and those "false preachers" will get on the band wagon and work your emotions and your pocket book to send them even more money so that they can go on a "crusade" to save the world. However, the real persecution comes from within the church itself towards those who are willing to suffer for the name of Jesus--right where they are. I will tell you now that most of the persecution I have ever faced in North America is from other Christians--we certainly have a hard time getting along. If you want to a live a godly life you will be persecuted and it will be from fellow Christians who watch your example and are convicted by your lifestyle--they want to run with the world, they want the same success that the world offers, they don't want to have to work at their relationship with God. If people put the same work and effort into their relationship with people that they put into their relationship with God, I can tell you right now that friendships, marriages, and working relationships would quickly fall apart. In fact we would be happy with a 50% divorce rate. No, any relationship takes work. Jesus had some parting words for these type of people: "Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' 23 And do you know what I am going to say? "You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.' Did you get that? God is saying that all these people did was use Him to make themselves important! Ouch! You see, God does want to meet all of our needs (and in doing that He will go above and beyond all that we can ask and even think of). I also believe that those needs extend into all areas of our lives--physical, financial, social, mental, and spiritual. However, He wants to meet our needs not so that we can coast by on a life of ease and succees, but rather so that His name is properly honored and glorified. In fact He says that the reason He has given us power to create wealth is so that His covenenant will be established on the earth (Deuteronomy 8:18). I believe that the church has been put on this earth to be a light house to a hurting world. I believe that God in all of His infinite wisdom does want to bless us and make us successful--but for His purposes and in His time and in His ways. If you are not experiencing God's blessings in your life, stop right now and examine yourself. If you do you will likely find one of two things: 1) Your level of belief is too low--yes your lack of faith has much to do with it or 2) you have been asking for all the wrong reasons. Take time to get to know God. Take time to really find out what it means to please Him. Christianity is not about "success" as the world defines it, it is about surrender to all things that come from a good and faithful God.

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