Health, wealth, prosperity, social status, security, position, power?
A lot of pastors will tell you that if you make all the right decisions, and do all the right things in your Christian walk, then God will ensure that you have all of the items listed above. And I suppose you can get away with teaching that if you’re preaching that message in an environment where the conditions are right to make it “true”. If you live in a first world country, and you have a decent education, and you work hard, and there’s a demand for your expertise, then yes, you will do quite well. You don’t even have to go to church and tithe—you’ll be blessed because the environment in which you live is blessed.
But imagine some crazy Hitler type of leader seizes control of your first world country. He decides he’s going to blame the Christians for everything that’s wrong in the world. And he’s going to have all these Christians arrested and thrown into death camps. So one day you find yourself being dragged from your home, separated from your family, separated from your possessions, shipped off to a death camp, stripped naked, and forced to work hard labour while living off of a piece of bread and a bowl of soup as your only meal each day. It all sounds pretty gloomy, but guess what? It’s happened before, and to Christians too. So what will you do then? Curse God for not holding up His end of the bargain?
Suffering is the stripping away of health, wealth, prosperity, social status, security, position, and power. If any one of these items is your living hope, then as soon as it’s taken away, or even just threatened to be taken away, you’ll lose all hope. Your living hope, when based on any one of these items, is based on your life’s circumstances. If your living hope is based on your life’s circumstances then you’ll only ever have hope when your circumstances are good. When your circumstances are bad, you’ll lose all hope. If this describes you, then are you not a shallow person?
1 Peter 1:3-7 tells us that, as born again Christians, our living hope is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven, ready to be revealed in the last time. And even though our circumstances may not be good, we greatly rejoice (in the midst of suffering) because our faith in Christ will result in praise, honor, and glory. Not praise, honor, and glory from us to Jesus, but rather praise, honor, and glory from Jesus to us. “Well done good and faithful servant!” Jesus will shower His love, His affection, and His acceptance on us for ever and ever. This is the living hope of the born again Christian. No current circumstance can take this away.
If you get this, and it really takes root in your heart, then what can hold you back from giving your all to serving Jesus in this life? No fear of losing health, wealth, prosperity, social status, security, position, and power will stop you—because your living hope is no longer rooted in any of those things. Your living hope is rooted solely in the loving acceptance of your Creator, Master, King, and Friend—Jesus.