Sunday, 24 January 2010

Upside down expectations

It is said that some churches preach a prosperity gospel. It goes along the lines of accept Christ and you will find wealth and prosperity. The message is all about what the individual can gain. From this individual gospel perspective, faith is all about the individual and their salvation or entry into heaven, whatever that might mean. They are offered 'salvation'. This message may be combined with a message of repentance and seeking God's forgiveness for sins.

It is easy to have a faith that has the wrong expectations. When Jesus came, the Jews had a certain expectation for the Messiah. The Messiah would be an all powerful conquering leader who would free Israel from her overlords. Barclay in commenting on Luke 9:18-22 says Jesus had “to take their ideas of God and of God's purposes and turn them upside down” (p 119). I would contend that this still needs to happen. Jesus came to develop personal relationships, to suffer, and to die. His plan and God's plan involves loving all of creation. He has to change our thinking from what we might think best for ourselves and those around us to what is best for all of creation. It isn't personal comfort that is important. It is healing the rifts between people, races, and groups. If our faith is based on personal benefit other than establishing a personal relationship with the living God, then we have missed the point. The real benefit is faith and belief is in our attitudes to others. It isn't what we can gain but what we have to give.

Reference

Barclay, W. (1975). The gospel of Luke (revised ed.). Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press.

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