Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I believe in the prosperity gospel, don't you?


I don't. I mean not really. I know better but in practice... all too often I think I'm entitled to health and wealth and choice and fulfillment. And if I don't get that just watch me prickle.

When the heat of life (diagram thanks to Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp) burns down on me it's the illnes and the financial insecurity and the limitations and the boring jobs that draw from my heart frustration and annoyance and other unpleasantries.

As Lane and Tripp (and others) note - when a drink is spilled from a glass, there's water on the floor on the one hand because something knocked it, but on the other hand because it was in the glass in the first place. Nothing comes out in my words and actions that doesn't originate in my heart.

When ease drives my decisions, when safety sets the agenda, when satisfaction is required I might well be in the territory of good things but I'm off the grid when it comes to the promises of God in Christ.

He never said every little thing was going to be ok. He never said I would get to do the job I wanted. He never said I would be employed. He never said my kids would be strong and successful. That's not Christianity, it's the prosperity gospel (a classic case of a gospel that is no gospel at all).

And yet, deep in me - from the depths of my heart, and from the air that I've breathed these last 36.5 years  such entitlement feels utterly normal.

The ordinary and the everyday situations and knocks of life in my community expose the reality of my heart. And in that moment I can harden myself and justify myself and tell myself that my response is reasonable and acceptable... or I could repent to Christ. [Worth noting that the heat of happy days can illicit the darkness in my heart just as much as the bad days.]

Horrified and exposed and without defence I find a moment of grace.

Instead of fruitless unrepentance that's heading for being cut down and cast out, I might instead find the one who was cut own and cast out for me, for us! As Sibbes puts it, none of us who come to Christ with in need are ever turned away.

In the sound of the gospel, ringing in the ordinary moments of the day, I can mortify that stinking sewage and bile of sin that pours out of my heart by being led again and again to the cross of Christ. And there, find new life, new heart, new spiritual fruit... a different way to approach the situations of life.

And there I might find contentment in the company of his people. There I might find Christ and become just a little more like him who faced the harshed heat not so my life might be easy, but so that together, day by day, we might know him just a little more.

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