"Everyone has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth. "
- Mike Tyson
The other day, I got an email from a friend of mine talking about prosperity through faith. It was from one of those cats who makes it a common practice to pimp the Word for personal gain. Her email annoyed me for a couple of reasons: (1) in a job where I receive and respond to hundreds of emails a week, this was the last thing I needed to see and, more importantly (2) the implied message of the email; suggesting that following Christ translates to prospering financially.
I think that one of most critical mistakes that people in the Body of Christ make is in believing that following Christ will somehow lead to a materially prosperous life; while minimizing the true costs associated with being a follower. Living a life in Christ was never meant to be easy. Let we've allowed for a few ministers wearing flashy clothing and jewelry, driving in expensive cars and jets, and living in beautiful homes to convince us that their material accumulation was the direct result of their devotion to Christ. But I assure you: following Jesus is not the guaranteed get-rich-quick scheme it's often portrayed to be.
As far as I can tell, the only guarantee Jesus gave us concerning our decision to follow Him was that following Him would only lead to more troubles we would face; not less. In Matthew 6:34, He states:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Paul also chimed in when he offered the following commentary from II Timothy 3:12:
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
That doesn't sound like a cake walk life in Christ to me. Instead, it sounds like following Christ may require us to take a few of those punches that Mr. Tyson mentioned in the quote above.
Often, many believers (new and experienced) have been inadequately prepped for the punches that are sure to come from being a follower of Christ; whether those hits come from life's conditions, the Devil, or even from other believers. We've been appeased or appease others by chanting a few prosperity catchphrases; mindlessly used to assuage the situation. But little do we realize that God may have indeed allowed certain situations to get ahold of us so that we can shape our character and remind us on how much we need Him to sustain. Most of all, facing difficulties that come with following Christ cause us to reexamine our faith. Can we stay committed to Christ when it becomes unfashionable to do so? Certainly, suffering for Christ is not the same now as it was back in the day (Don't be fooled by the speculated prowess of the religious right. It's not at all fashionable to be a Christian these days). But following Christ does have its share of costs that must be counted.
Are you willing to count those costs or are you just looking for the huge mega-lottery pay day? If it's the latter, you might be pretty disappointed in the end.