How Do You See Jesus?

 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Philipians 1:29

Trials can feel more difficult when we lose our vision that we’re called to suffer for Christ’s sake. The need for suffering in learning about Christ in our Christian walk is clearly spelled out in the following scriptures.

1 Peter 4:1; Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10, and 4:12; Hebrews 2:10 .

Christians can view Jesus all kinds of ways: He can be  Norman Vincent Peale, the positive thinker, and self-help guru; as Warren Buffet, the businessman and investment tycoon who brings prosperity; or as the social revolutionary whose only job is to fight for justice and give food and clothing to the poor, huddling mass of people. Somehow the Savior from sin, Deliverer, and personal friend gets lost in the shuffle.

For many Jesus has simply become a means to an earthly end.

Maybe they’re going to church for social reasons, to make their consciences feel better, or just because it’s in their upbringing.  Some even use Jesus as a business or a means to become wealthy through best-selling books, speaking engagements, and TV shows. Such folks have unfortunately embraced “prosperity” teachings which are often promoted by teachers who have sadly, entirely missed the point of miracles and blessings.

To them, God’s favor is determined by miraculous rent payments and financial blessings. God has blessed all men with miraculous events in their lives. Men who have not even come to know his Son, in hopes that they will be drawn by his love.  He gives blessings to the just and unjust.

Teaching people how to get every material desire:  afford designer clothes, a Lexus, a fine house, and a dynamic stock portfolio means nothing in walking with God. It is our spiritual relationship with God that counts even if we are poor.  Poverty can teach us lessons that are perfectly in line with God’s will for our life.  According to prosperity gospels, anyone that took a vow of poverty or gave their lives to helping the poor in a lower spiritual plane.  Yet, no material wealth or poverty has anything to do with our spiritual walk.

On the contrary, the whole message of the scriptures is a reconciliation of our spirit with God’s spirit and deliverance from the bondage that is brought about by our sin.

5 Errors of the Prosperity Gospel is a good read on the subject.

Suffering Teaches Us 

When my husband and I have gone through great financial need, it taught us how little we need to sustain ourselves because we were dependent on the One who made all things. Of course, riches are not negative. Job and Abraham, for example, were righteous men who were wealthy.  Nevertheless, Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

God seeks the gold of a pure heart and the fruit of a pure life, not the gold or prosperity of Wall Street (John 15:2-5). Producing the fruit of the spirit is our utmost purpose in this life so that others can see Christ’s work on the heart.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…Galatians 5:22

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