Friday, August 24, 2007

On the Health and Wealth Gospel

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more that all that we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us...." (Eph 3:26)
The new “health and wealth” gospel that is being preached to us actually making us put a cap on what God can do for us. We should leave it to God, to his will. The ultimate purpose of Christian life is to glorify God and not to limit God.

The new gospel of prosperity that is being preached is one of “name it, claim it”. The argument is that human words have power to make things to happen. It follows from this reasoning that God will grant anything that we ask specifically. Promoters of this “gospel” say that we need to clear in our imagination and be specific about our prayer requests. For example, if you are praying for a car, don’t just pray for a car, they say. Pray for the specific model, specific color, etc.
However, I find this teaching and all its reasoning contrary to the Word of God!
The Bible teaches that we don’t know how to pray and the Holy Spirit comes to our help in our weakness to pray. The Bible also teaches us that God is a good God. He will not give us what harms us, though sometimes we may even ask for harmful things, being limited in our knowledge (James 4:3). God’s wisdom certainly overrules human’s faulty wisdom. Our imagination is limited. God’s blessings cannot be limited by my faulty imagination!
God’s gifts are the best, though I may not be able to appreciate the greatness of them. My inability to appreciate God’s gifts is due to my fallen nature (James 1:17). Ephesians 3:20 make it very clear that God’s blessings for us are not limited by what I ask for. He always grants more than that I ask. Then why should I limit God by the specifics that I can think of? God grants not only more than we ask for, but more than what we can imagine! That means we should not limit God by our imagination.
The new “health and wealth” gospel that is being preached to us actually making us put a cap on what God can do for us. We should leave it to God, to his will. The ultimate purpose of Christian life is to glorify God and not to limit God.
 
 
 

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Living as the Chosen People of God

Thus, those who follow Christ have two awesome responsibilities as the Chosen People of God: to live their lives as acceptable to God and also to bring glory to God. God does not take delight in mediocrity and those who are watching our lives also does not appreciate mediocre lives.
I live among believers. In my city of five million people (Pune, India) every one considers himself or herself to belong to one or other religion. Majority of them belong to one of the Hindu denominations, there are Muslims, a couple of thousand are Jews and we have Christians and Zoroastrians too. All have their own ways of explaining their relationship with their deities or spiritual leaders. Most of them may describe themselves as believers of their respective faiths; some may call themselves devotees or followers.
This makes me take a look at what the Bible says about the believers in Jesus Christ. There are a number of images the Book of Ephesians use to describe those who are believers in Christ Jesus. The first one is the image of adoption. Ephesians Chapter 4:1-5 uses two such images: one is of chosen people, and the other being adopted.
"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will..."
In the Bible, the word "chosen" means selecting something after carefully considering the alternatives. When David went for a combat against the giant Goliath, he "chose" five stones. Certainly there were many stones he could have picked up randomly. But the stones he picked up were "chosen" ones. It indicates the special privilege that the chosen ones have. In the New Testament, the Greek word used for "choosing" is always used with God as subject and believers in Christ as objects. Moreover, it also is used in a particular grammatical form that indicates doing something for the benefit of the doer. Translated, it means, God chose who believe in Christ Jesus from the human race for himself. Thus for me to be a Christian it is more than being a believer or a devotee of Christ, though belief and devotion plays a major part in my spiritual life. The fact that I am carefully chosen by God adds to my own self-image: it is a privilege, it means God considers me precious and valuable.
However, as all special privileges comes with responsibilities, so this one also. The chief purpose is that we will be blameless before God. The word, "blameless" in the Bible means something that is without defect and thus acceptable to God.
The verse quoted above concludes with a reminder of the responsibility or purpose of this election. The purpose of election is that everyone who is thus chosen may be " ...to the praise of his glorious grace." Living lives that glorify God is the main purpose why God has chosen those who believe in Jesus Christ.
Thus, those who follow Christ have two awesome responsibilities as the Chosen People of God: to live their lives as acceptable to God and also to bring glory to God. God does not take delight in mediocrity and those who are watching our lives also does not appreciate mediocre lives.

Burning Bushes

'And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning,...