A young pastor was being chastised once when he was praying for the sick that he was preaching a prosperity gospel. He was shocked at how he had allowed that theology to sip into his life. He has since learnt not to pray that when one seeks God fully and strive to be holy, God will heal completely. Last week, Christianity Today, reported that four out of 10 Evangelical Churches actually taught prosperity gospel to their members.
How did this happen?
When we undermine our ability to deal with evil and suffering, we subtly teach that there is no place for pain in our lives. When we teach our members that God will heal every disease or when we tell them that every of their illness is a result of their own’s or somebody’s unfaithfulness, we teach amiss.
When we teach that when we have to do something for God to receive material blessings in return, we preach another Gospel. In our rapidly wealth-crazed lifestyle, many churchgoers actually believe that giving to God leads to financial rewards.
While God is sovereign and is a Healer and while He owns everything and everything is His and that He has given us abundant life, it does not always translate into perfect health or wealth beyond measure for us on earth. In contrast, Jesus Himself has taught us that we will have tribulation (John 16:33). The Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 4:12 reminds us that suffering in our lives is not a surprise. James also chips in to tell us to expect trials but to count it all joy when that happens (James 1:2). The Apostle Paul also says that afflictions bring endurance and glory (Rom. 5:3-5; 2 Cor. 4:17).
Surely, healing brings glory to God when God intervenes in our lives in supernatural ways and miraculously heals us of diseases. At the same time, when God surprises others with wealth and possessions beyond imagination, that too lead us to praise and glorify God.
But when we live for God’s material blessings now or when we usher those not healed out of the door by saying that they are unfaithful, we misinterpret the Word. Like in Job, the evil One wants us to believe that Job’s faithfulness is the reason for His reinstatement and receive even more blessings in the end. The true fact was that when blessings were taken away, Job did not curse God but gave God the glory even though he was severely tested.
No matter what happens to us, God matters, not us. In all our lives and in everything, worship God alone, whether or not we are healed or are blessed materially. He alone is our hope.