(This is part one of a two-part email. Next Monday is part two.)
How many times has the phrase, “The Bible could not be any clearer about…” been used to manipulate and even abuse people? I will not give examples, but just study a little history. It’s happened one too many times.
It is no surprise that it’s easy to follow Jesus when…
The market share is up and to the right.
Your kids are attending their college classes you paid way too much for.
Your marriage is thriving, and you are healthy.
Your ministry is blowing up in the best way.
But when those things aren’t happening, what do we do?
We all (I’m talking to myself here, too) have to answer this question: Are we only following Jesus when Jesus is coming through for us? And come on, who doesn’t want Jesus to come through? Who doesn’t want to have faith that moves mountains and moves your kids out of your house? Who doesn’t want to believe God for miracles (like Tom Brady signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and winning the Super Bowl)? Who doesn’t want to have bold faith that believes God can and will make it better? Who isn’t trusting God for a bigger and brighter future? Come on!
But when Jesus does not come through like that…?
We are left with the uncomfortable reality that maybe our version of following Jesus has a lot to do with what we get from Jesus. Let me be fair: It is difficult not to love that Jesus. I love that Jesus. In the United States and other parts of the developed world, we can go decades clinging to that version of Jesus and it works! He comes through. Life is good. He makes it better.
Until He doesn’t…
The bottom drops out. The bottom always drops out. Eventually, our “Prosperity Jesus” (even if He is disguised behind our “Non-Prosperity Gospel Selves”) is exposed. And we must decide if we like what we are left with.
Are we still hyped to follow a Jesus Who…
Allowed my business to fail because of COVID-19?
Allowed my depression to overwhelm me?
Allowed my ministry to shrink and may not recover?
Allowed my friend to get sick?
Allowed my marriage to end?
And that’s the point, right? God allowed those things. We believe that God could have changed those circumstances we would never have chosen, but He didn’t. What do you even do with that? I think you have two options:
Option 1: You continue to cling to the version of Jesus that’s going to always make it better: He’s going to turn everything around. But when your reality doesn’t match that version of Jesus, it’s hard not to be angry. Heck, it’s hard to continue to follow Jesus.
Option 2: You consider the possibility that your faith has been propped up on a version of Jesus that doesn’t exist. And honestly, a version of Jesus and faith that’s not nearly as good as the original.
*This is part one of a two-part email. Look for part two Next Monday