Health and Wealth — the Purpose of Christianity?

Question from a Site Viewer
I had serious problems with my eyes that began when I was about 14. I’m gonna be blind–that is what a doctor told me. I knew that God existed since I was a child, but my knowledge about Him was surface. When I was 19 I studied philosophy at my university and read about agnostics. Unfortunately, I liked their teachings. As problems with my health got worse and worse I began looking for a solution. I read many books about positive thinking and things like the “Secret” movie. These books didn’t help me–thanks to Jesus! This spring when I lost any hope and thought about suicide my relative invited me to church and there I met Jesus! Now I’m a born-again Christian.

To be honest I must say that I came to church because of the story of the miracle-healing of my relative. I wanted to get healthy too!

I received many answers for my questions about the meaning of life, predestination, etc. But now I’ve found that my church teaches something that you can hear from teachers of “Word of Faith.” What is most terrible is that I see the same principles that I read in the books and the film that I mentioned above. I read the New Testament several times. It’s not about prosperity and health at all. All my mind and heart protest against these teachings. I have shifted my mind totally; now I really first of all want to serve Jesus, not get healing.

What do you think about the “prosperity gospel?” What do you think about all these teachings? So many people come to churches just to receive money and health, but not for serving our Lord. I understand that I too came for material things and later shifted my thinking. But what about many other people who become disappointed in Christianity thanks to false teachings? I don’t know what to do. Should I find a different church?

Tim’s Answer
Thank you for the question and for the brief description of your journey to Christ. I am delighted that you are not satisfied with the prosperity gospel. It tells me that your faith is more firmly grounded in your glimpse of who Jesus is. I rejoice in this.

It is not that it is wrong to ask the Father for health, or financial resources sufficient to meet our needs. But the worth of Jesus is far greater than our physical health or finances. He is a friend that is so precious we would gladly give up our health, wealth, ambitions, and pursuits, in order to be with Him. He is a treasure far greater than health, wealth, or anything on this earth.

I am often a little bemused at those who preach prosperity teaching. Do they really think that those who have health and wealth are closer to being like Jesus? How much health and wealth do we need to be happy? And if health and wealth are what we desire, then how do we get our hearts to seek heaven? Jesus taught us in Matthew 6 that where our treasure is, there our hearts will be as well. Paul says that some suppose financial gain is godliness (1 Timothy 6:5). Many in the prosperity camp seem to fall into this error.

I also know that the teaching of prosperity may also overthrow the faith of some. They seek Christ to obtain gain, and they find that their physical life gets harder. And they leave their faith. Others, however, like yourself, come initially to find help for physical life, only to discover the joy of a person who we grow to love deeply.

God uses our weaknesses to show His strength. He uses our frailties to show His power. Paul had an affliction that God did not take away (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). God used the blindness of Fanny Crosby to bless millions with her powerful poems and hymns. God’s people have often suffered. Just read Hebrews 11:32-40). Some, in His will, triumph. Some, in His will, suffer. Both have a blessing awaiting them.

I am sure that prosperity teaching was a long ways away from the teaching of the early church. They were torn from their homes, driven into exile, deprived of their livelihoods, persecuted, and sometimes martyred, all for following Jesus. There are Christians today that face the same things. The teaching of Scripture is that we should prepare ourselves for suffering. The way of following Christ is to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.

But He Himself is an incredible treasure. He will sustain us in our darkest moments. He will bless us in ways that matter most. He will provide those surprise visits when we are in awe and all we can say is “thank you, Jesus!”

You ask what you should do. I do not know what other churches are in your area. If there is a good church that teaches God’s word, I would suggest joining with them. But if not, it may be that by living out a life of deep faith towards God and love for God and others, God may use you to open the eyes of your pastor and others in the church that there is a treasure far deeper than health and wealth. That treasure is Jesus Himself, our Savior, brother, and friend.

Always, keep seeking God, listening to His Word, and living out the love of God towards others. And may our Lord Jesus and His Spirit guide you in your walk with Him.

a fellow servant,

tim

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