A Half GospelBy
There is a prosperity gospel and then there is an on your way to prosperity gospel. While, in my opinion, there may not be a big distinction between the two, I offer that we allow for one. A statement such as “God wants to bless you with lots of money” sets off warning bells for a significant percentage of followers of Christ. While a talk on “God’s plan for your success” is a bit more palatable. However, if this is THE message–the only message–then it is not the message of the gospel.
Having had two close relatives in the hospital over the past week, I can vouch for the reality of another aspect of the gospel–suffering. When one is close to death or with a loss of consciousness, what is one to do? Standing there watching while helpless in so many ways, often a person will cry out to God. Lying there on what may be a death bed thinking of the children and spouse that could be without a loved one weighs heavily and may lead one to cast all of their hope on God alone.
Jesus was the great communicator of the BOTH/AND. He shares that he came that we may have life and have it more abundantly. AND he also told his disciples to willingly pick up their crosses daily and carry them around…to carry a symbol and reality of suffering and sacrifice with them always. These two statements are shared on different occasions. Jesus did not leave this to complex hermeneutics to arrive at this conclusion though. He shares the both/and reality with his disciples.
29“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:29-31
Half of the gospel is not the gospel. The good news is both the abundance that God has for us through Christ and sharing in the suffering of Christ.