Getting off the school bus, she was sure to walk a few steps behind the group of pretty girls, not wanting them to notice her.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words kill.”
She knew her place.
As she crossed over to the other side of the tracks, she wondered what it would be like to own a new dress with a matching Jo-Jo bow.
Dressed in her brother’s hand-me-down jeans that never seemed to fit right, she walked on dreading the evening routine: help with little sister’s homework, get the house clean, make dinner, hope mom doesn’t get mad and yell, smile pretty, maybe dad will notice. Just maybe today her parents will acknowledge how hard she’s working for their approval.
We all long for significance. Desiring to be the one on top, we like to break society into classes. Although, in America these classes are more fluid, let us not be blind to ethnic, economic, and social barriers that we created to find value and significance at the expense of other image bearers. This man-made significance never satisfies our need.
We can mine the Bible for a rich treasure trove of truth. God has no favorites. He does not love the rich more, giving them more for their comfort. He does not love the poor less, causing them to suffer because of laziness. He doesn’t favor one skin tone over another. He doesn’t create girls to be taken advantage of by men. We live in a world broken by sin, plagued by suffering, and characterized by the strong taking from the weak, but this is not God’s desire.
The very sin that breaks our hearts and self-image broke Jesus Christ’s body on the cross!
Romans 2:11-11 but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, first for the Jew, then for the Greek. For God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the Law will also perish apart from the Law, and all who sin under the Law will be judged by the Law.
“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.
Who shows no partiality to princes Nor regards the rich above the poor, For they all are the work of His hands?
Then Peter began to speak: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism,
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Absolutely not!
There are so many more verses!
The ground at the foot of the Cross is level. If I know this to be true, why do I still struggle to find significance in the world? Why do I still compare myself to others? Why aren’t others struggling like me with finances, self-worth, disobedient children… the list can go on and on. In short, a soft prosperity gospel has invaded the church. Some-where along the way, we began to believe that being co-heirs with Christ means that we should never suffer, but that God will give us every desire of our hearts. We missed the Bible’s message about suffering.
In Romans 8:17 Paul writes, “and if children, also heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Paul’s encouragement to us, is not that we won’t suffer, but suffering will never separate us from God’s love. We are called, justified, glorified. It’s not that we will never be afflicted, be anguished, be persecuted, be hungry, be naked, in danger, face the sword, or face death. These things do not separate us from His love.
The soft prosperity gospel says, “#BLESSED, #tooblessedtobestressed.”
You have to read this article. It may hurt, but repentance frees us! Grace covers us!
Before my son died, I didn’t even recognize how the soft prosperity gospel blinded me and my circle of friends. Its influence is so subtle. Like the author in the above article, I didn’t see it until my faith stopped making sense. I was #blessed, so why is all this happening. We were losing everything: Kai, house, job, friends, and church.
I faced the truth that God never promises to rescue us from the situations of earthly life that sin causes or the brokenness that follows. Even when we ask for forgiveness, we experience the earthly consequences of sin. Read King David’s story in 2 Samuel 12:10.
We naturally gravitate towards teachers that inspire and make us feel good about ourselves. We want to be told that we are basically OK. Yeah, bad things happened to us, but now we are powerful and we can tell our story! We are worthy and beautiful. We prefer a feel good self-empowerment gospel. After all, we want to be satisfied with our station life. We’ve worked hard to be significant or find significance in the bad things that have happened. We’ve exchanged the God of the Bible for therapeutic moralistic deism. Peter says, “For uttering bombastic empty words, they seduce, by fleshly desires and debauchery… They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.”
Jesus teaches that his kingdom is not of this world. To be first we must be the servant of all. The way that leads to destruction is broad. The road that leads to righteousness is straight and the gate is narrow. The righteous will be persecuted. Almost everything he teaches is the opposite of our natural inclinations, including suffering.
Peter writes, “but even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed” II Peter 3:14. Would we write #blessed after Herod chopped off John the Baptist’s head? What about Stephen who was stoned for preaching the gospel? Priscilla and Aquila started three churches, but were kicked out of their hometown. The Apostle Paul says that he was overwhelmed with fears on the inside and outside. Blessed?
The rain falls on the just and the unjust Matthew 5:45. All of us would like the right amount of rain at just the right time to fall for our greatest comfort. Some of us are poor, some of us have endured abuse, some of us are plagued by tragedy, and some of us have too many children, while others are infertile. How can we know who is loved?
All of us! Jesus loved the whole world, and gave his life for all of us!
Revelation 3:20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he will me.”
The Lord has prepared a wedding feast for his Bride. He calls all to come and eat with him, making no accommodations for rich or poor, abused or abuser, skin color, young or old. He simply calls everyone to repentance, not wanting anyone to perish, but wanting all to be saved. He wants to walk with us through all of life’s moments. Earth is not Heaven!