There is a thin line, a balance in life, in virtually everything we do and everything we want to do. If we get out of balance, we might find that certain unintended consequences follow on. For example, fast food and ice cream, crisps (potato chips), fish and chips, burgers and fries, donner kebabs and all those takeaway treats taste wonderful, but eat too much of it and your health will decline, and unfortunately your waistline will expand too! Work too much, enjoy too little, and you will also be out of balance here too. Too much of anything is probably not good for any human being; so I believe life is all about balance.
I must put myself in this post. I am a middle aged, but young at heart, aspiring writer who sooner hopefully than later wants to be a published author and of course wants to be earning a living doing what I enjoy doing best, which is writing. I am absolutely certain that I am not the only blogger who wants to succeed as a writer! My view is this; as a Christian I believe God wants me to have a decent life, where He will always meet my many needs, needs emotional, physical, financial and most important of all the spiritual need. Yes, I believe I have a perfect right as someone from a poor and very traditional British Working class background to aspire to bigger and better things, and to work towards my dream of being a published author and successful writer. What I have understood is this: that God is the perfect source for helping me, and you, to pursue all the things in life we want, whether it’s just to be happier and content, or whether it’s something more in line with a successful career or starting a business, and so on. God is both the God of the spiritual and the material too. I have also understood something else too, which can’t be overlooked; we must accept that being a Christian doesn’t mean that God will make us millionaires or billionaires necessarily, even though there is no bad thing in being wealthy. I now believe that God will take care of it all; if I become rich, then God will have a plan for that, if I just become successful and earn a decent living, then He has a plan for that too. I have learnt that God will always meet our need, and not necessarily our greed. But, and I digress, I pray regularly that God will help me to work towards my goals and dream of being a published author. Equally, we must do our part; a book doesn’t write itself, a boxer doesn’t get fit by sitting in front of the telly drinking beer, and no good thing in life rarely ever comes if we just hope for it without some hard work and aforethought on our part. You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you just might find you get what you need. ‘Yahweh says this: Stop your lamenting dry your eyes, for your labour will have a reward, Yahweh declares, and they will return from the enemy's country. There is hope for your future after all, Yahweh declares, your children will return to their homeland.’ (Jeremiah 31:16-17 NJB)
Some Christians believe that you have to be poor and humble to really be acceptable to God, and perhaps be acceptable to other people too. Some Christians though believe that God wants every Christian to be wealthy or at least to be praying for prosperity and wealth as part of their daily prayer routine. In some Western countries both views can be held in certain Christian communities. What is more attractive, poverty or prosperity? And, whatever your view, who would rather be poor than rich? Is there some truth to the idea of a prosperity gospel? I believe there is, but there is more to God, a whole lot more, than seeing Him as a granter of three wishes. We also have to be careful that we are not using God, using our professed faith, for our own greed or selfish agendas. There is a danger that we begin to lose sight of what God wants for us, and what His will is for us, and we become greedy for more when we really don’t need anymore. ‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’ (Matthew 6:24 NJB) Let us truly know what God’s answer to the prosperity gospel is, and let us be content when He supplies all our needs first, before worrying about what we haven’t got. Any Christian in dire poverty should in all ways ask God to alleviate that and have faith He will. Any of us not in dire poverty, and that probably means the majority of us in the West, should first be grateful for every good thing we have already, and then being honest about our dreams and goals. And remember this; if we take a lot out, we should always look for ways of putting something back.
Love, or Confusion?
I believe that God wants us as Christians, of all varieties and backgrounds, to love each other, to love other people and to love Him, in no particular order I may add. As a Christian, I think that when we show respect for fellow human beings, be they Christians, or whether they are not Christians, be they our family and friends or even whether they are just strangers we meet on the street or in the supermarket, in the bookie’s or even in the pub, we are loving those people and doing God’s will. God is love, and we must spread that love any way we can. I am a fairly big guy from a big, tough city; we are not known for our sentimentality nor are we particularly genteel either. I am just an ordinary bloke who happens to be a Christian after all. So, my love for other people comes out in a kind of street way, a joke here, a pat on the back, a friendly way that guys prefer; you may be different. But I think that when we love, and try to love, other people, it comes back to us, and God is pleased. We can’t all be highly educated well-spoken vicars and priests, God calls all sorts of people to serve Him, and we can only act sometimes in the manner of the people we are brought up with. Better imperfect love, than perfect intolerance. If someone, on the other hand, is becoming a Christian to control other people, to manipulate others in some way, or just to get everyone agreeing that ‘they are right and everyone who disagrees is wrong’, are they really loving their fellow man, and are they really doing God’s will? For me, this can be what passes for Christianity, but in my humble opinion it is not Christianity at all.
Popes and archbishops, well-educated vicars and priests may know theology and Christology, they may know all the major events in historical Christianity, and may have spent many years in theological colleges and seminaries, but it still doesn’t mean that they necessarily know God any more than any other common or garden Christian like you and me. If we are truly called by God, we will be determined to want to be living in the truth, regardless of what someone may say, and we must always be prepared to study the Bible, pray regularly and ask the Holy Spirit to be our guide. No one ever said we had to lose our common sense when we became Christians. ‘So for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old order is gone and a new being is there to see.’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 NJB)