My friend at Apostate Catholic has set my wheels to turning about a lot of things we are taught in the Christian church which are, no matter how you slice them, heretical. There are things we erroneously categorize as evidence of God’s blessing when they are in fact, simply a by product of being alive in the West in 2016.
For example, I had the occasion to hear a woman testify that the fact of all her bills being paid is evidence of God’s blessing on her life. Well, I feel fairly certain that this woman’s bills are also paid, even though she has made millions producing things like this (warning: some seriously screwed up spiritual stuff in this clip):
She looks pretty healthy too, while we’re at it, for those who buy into the health and wealth version of the gospel.
I know Scripture teaches we are to give thanks in everything, and to the extent that we are able to eat to satisfaction, sleep in safety, and travel in peace, we are to be grateful for those things. Yes, be thankful to God for the reprieve we are experiencing from some of the worst physical destruction and deprivation this world has to offer:
I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:13
But Jesus also blessed the poor in spirit, the mourner, the one who hunger and thirsts for right, the persecuted, and the meek. He called blessed everything that the post modern church condemns as a sign of lacking joy or gratitude.
Have you ever read Paul’s prayers? Really took a good hard look at his life and travails? The one prayer we read where he asked for anything for himself, God denies him: “My grace is sufficient for you.” After all the time and effort and suffering and toil Paul put in to the spreading of God’s message, God couldn’t do this one thing for him?
God decreed, according to His own unsearchable wisdom, that the greater good was served by Paul suffering through whatever that thorn happened to be. How many modern Christians would have condemned Paul as lacking in faith or harboring some kind of sin in his life?
When the early apostles were imprisoned and beaten for preaching the message of Jesus, they found this an occasion to rejoice:
So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His[a] name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5
I have a lot of thoughts which I am currently working out in my own mind, but one thing is certain. We have been sold a bill of goods in the modern western church. That we count our cushiness and lack of suffering as blessing and teach others the same is no small part of the reason why people tend to lose heart.
Jesus said the the kingdom of God “is within you” but we teach people that their outer life is a direct result of the closeness of their walk with God. That if we pray hard enough, keep closely enough to the current iteration of “this is how to be a good conservative Christian”, and have enough people in our corner agreeing with our assessment of how good we are, then we are “blessed”.
I don’t think that’s what Scripture means when it says a life sowing to the flesh reaps corruption but a walk in the Spirit brings life and peace. It’s a classic case of:
Excuse The Princess Bride reference. I like that cheesy movie.