Forget about heaven! Hey! Who needs heaven when you can have greatness right here on Earth? In this environment, it can be very tempting to believe Christ wants us to be comfortable. We are surrounded by the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ which teaches that if you believe in Christ ‘enough’ then you will achieve greatness on earth. You will be wealthy and comfortable. If you are suffering, that can only be true because you don’t believe ‘enough’ in Christ. To add to the temptation, popular preachers like Joel Osteen live lavish lives, so we think, “If it is good enough for them, it must be good enough for us.”
Then, you come across a passage like we hear in today’s Gospel lesson (you can read it below), in which Christ is warning us about temporary rewards. Does Christ really expect us to give stuff away? Does He really expect us to worry more about the needs of others more than our own needs? Now we are faced with believing the Scriptures, or believing the already rich preachers. I remember the first time we humans were faced with this, and it didn’t go very well.
After receiving very clear instructions from God, Eve had a conversation with the serpent. ““Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3.1) Even with clear instructions from God, Eve considered her own comfort and followed the example of the serpent. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was [a]pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” (Genesis 3.6) We know the rest of the story. When you trust advice that goes against the Lord’s, you will find trouble.
Then you have the words of St Paul today, (also below) urging us to listen to his advice and live as he taught. His warning in genuine. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Once we have bought in to the prosperity myth, we will continue to live as if our faith will be rewarded here on earth. Eventually, like the Jews, we will figure out that God never intended for an Earthly reward at all. Just as they missed out on salvation because they were searching for political messiah, we will miss out on salvation if we are searching for earthly reward.
Let’s turn the world on its head. Stop listening to wealthy preachers and start trusting the way of life of the Church. Fast when the Church teaches us to fast. Pray when the Church teaches us to pray. Help others when the Church teaches us to help others. Most importantly seek the praise of God rather than the praises of men, and the world will notice. It may not like it, but it will notice. Don’t worry, God has your back, and He will reward you as His children in Heaven. It’s worth the wait.
The Lord said to the Jews who had come to him, "Woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. "Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. "Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. "But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again." – Luke 6.24-30
Brethren, we, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now. But what does the scripture say? "Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of the slave shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." So, brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine; and he who is troubling you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. – Galatians 4:28-31; 5:1-10