Have you ever heard of the Health and Wealth Gospel? It is a view of faith in Christ that has been around a while that basically says “if you are faithful enough to God, he has to bless you with health and wealth.”
If you believe enough, he will heal you.
If you give enough, he will prosper you.
Basically, if you have enough faith, you’ll have the good life.
You can hear preachers on TV that seem to believe this. But is it true? God definitely wants us to be faithful to him, and to grow in our faithfulness, but does he promise that he will give us riches and health if we reach a certain level of faith?
The clear response across the many books of the Bible is that we live in a fallen world! We are not going to live forever. There are accidents, diseases, and sinful choices that we make, and that others make, that affect us. The result is that sometimes we will face difficulties in this life. We might lose our job, get sick and have pain.
I’ve officiated enough funerals and done enough hospital visits in my short 7 years as pastor to knwo that when someone we love dies, or when something bad happens to us, we are quick to question “Why did you allow this, God?”
I get it that when we’re in a difficult situation, we are desperate for answers, for explanations, for anything to help us make sense of the pain that we’re experiencing. So we quickly turn it on God.
But think about that with me for a minute. Is the pain in this world God’s fault?
My kids love the cartoon Phineas and Ferb, and in that show the bad guy, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, creates a new destructive ray gun every episode. He names each gun uniquely, ending with the phrase “-inator”. So there is the “Destruct-inator,” and the “Space Laser-inator” and the “Freeze-inator” and the “Ugly-inator” and about a hundred other “-Inators”. Do we really believe that God has a “Get sick-inator” or a “Accident-inator” or “Marriage break-up-inator” or an “-inator” for all the bad stuff that can happen, and he zaps us with them?
Is the pain in this world God’s fault? When we’re going through a hard time, should we go to God in prayer and ask “Why are you doing this to me, Lord?”
We do that, don’t we? I wonder if we do it because, while most of us don’t believe in a Health & Wealth Gospel, if we are honest with ourselves, we believe it a little bit.
A pastor friend shared the following quote from Jerry Walls that introduced this idea to me:
“Accepting Jesus and following him faithfully does not guarantee or make it significantly more probable that you will flourish physically or financially, or have your best material life now. But having said that, I wonder how many of us who repudiate health and wealth gospel may accept a more subtle, respectable version. In particular, how many of us believe we have been blessed with good health, good jobs, beautiful homes/cars, beautiful bodies, and so on by virtue of thinking God has acted in particular ways to bless us that he has apparently not acted to bless many other persons, including our fellow Christians? How different is this assumption/belief than the version of health and wealth gospel preached by many televangelists?”
That’s a deep question to think about.
Maybe we actually do look at health and wealth as a blessing from God. Maybe we actually do look at sickness and poverty as a curse.
But is it? Is that how God works?
Jesus has what might be a surprising answer for us in our next section of our study through Luke. If you want a sneak peak check out Luke 6:17-26, and if you’re in the Lancaster area and are not involved in church family, we invite you to Faith Church Sunday morning to be our guest!