I often come across people citing a famous best seller, “Your Best Life Now,” penned by a very popular preacher in the United States. This is not the only book of this kind available to those who are looking for “positive thinking” or “prosperity gospel” literature. However, it amazes me to see how easily Christians could be led astray from the biblical truth. We often neglect the fact that anything that is positive, uplifting, and encouraging does not necessarily have to be true and biblical. Here are a few samples from “Your Best Life Now”:
“Don’t just accept whatever comes your way in life. You were born to win; you were born for greatness; you were created to be a champion in life.”
“It’s our faith that activates the power of God.”
“God wants you to have a good life, a life filled with love, joy, peace, and fulfillment. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy, but it does mean that it will always be good.”
Now, I submit that all of this looks good from the outside until you start comparing it with what the Bible teaches. Jesus Christ never promised that if you followed Him everything will be well with you. Neither did He promise that He will make everything lovely and painless and that you will have the best of your life here on earth. If you finish reading the book mentioned above, you will be certain to come out convinced that suffering, pain, sickness, financial difficulties, and persecution are not at all part of the life of a follower of Christ. However, this is not what the Bible teaches. To find the truth, one only needs to look closely in the Scriptures instead of blindly following false teachers.
For example, in the gospel of Luke (Chapter 21), Jesus’ disciples drew his attention to the magnificent buildings of the Temple in Jerusalem. This gave Jesus an opportunity to teach them the real challenges of life as his follower in this world. The disciples were, of course, interested in knowing when the end will come, instead Jesus directs their attention to what they might have to face in their life before the end comes. Jesus Christ not only plainly stated that disciples will have to face much suffering, pain, and persecution; but he also warned them against false teachers who might deceive them:
“5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life” (Luke 21: 5-19)
In the midst of problems, agony, sickness, and persecution, Jesus’ clear message to his followers is to stand firm in their faith. No, not because it is “our faith that activates the power of God;” rather, it is in the very nature of a loving God. Despite our lack of faith, God uses His unlimited power to protect us and bring us out victorious from our sufferings and to, ultimately, give us our best life that is yet to come in eternity. It is for this reason, Jesus said:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going” (John 1: 1- 4).
May we be faithful in heeding the Scriptural teachings and in following what Jesus teaches us in the midst of a life full of suffering, sickness, pain, and death. Amen.