Wednesday, 31 October 2012
BLESSING vs. RESPONSIBILITY
Is there anything wrong with a “gospel” that says, “Come to God for all the goodies”?
God wants to bless His children and included in this package is health and wealth, besides protection and security (Matthew 6:33, Jeremiah 29: 11 and 33:6).
However, it’s so easy to be mesmerised by the gifts that we forget the Giver. If we’re not careful, we might choose blessing and comfort over God’s calling.
When life revolves around our security and success, and God is the One who helps us fulfill our dreams, we are worshipping God primarily because we want to get something. Taking the “health and wealth” gospel to the extreme is like turning God into the genie of Aladdin’s lamp.
Why do some people highlight the blessings we can get from God and downplay the role and responsibility of believers?
No right thinking believer disputes the fact that we are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). What is crucial is that which follows. What’s next? Genuine faith has to be evidenced by works: "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead" (James 2:26).
Paul echoes this need for personal responsibility – to work out our faith with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). In a similar vein, believers are exhorted to produce fruits in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8, 10 and 7:19).
As a baby boomer, I used to read books by authors such as A. W. Tozer, Thomas A’ Kempis and George Verwer – all of which emphasised the cost of discipleship. But many books today are of a different genre, proclaiming the message that we can come to God for all the goodies we need in life – and at no or little cost to us.
If we pick and choose from scripture what we think is good for us – neglecting those parts we think are harsh and demanding – we will get a distorted view of God’s intended message to us.
We cannot allow the “health and wealth” gospel to overshadow that which is so central to Christ’s teaching – the challenge of discipleship: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).