The contemporary church in affluent countries whether in the west or the east faces a very grave danger: the insidious sense of being at ease in a world built upon Christian values and assumptions from time long past, which yet is now so thoroughly entrapped in multiple forms of idolatry that rot the soul.
Stupefied by the prosperity gospel and its empty theological foam full of vainglory and narcissism, Christians no longer see and feel ourselves as resident aliens adopting an exilic posture in this world.
On the contrary, we are lulled into a false sense of comfort and security in our nations and cultures as if they are our true homes. But they are not. Our true home is heaven—the glorious holy presence of God who made us, elected and called us, saved and sent us into this lost world to proclaim the gospel and gather His people home from every tribe and every tongue.
We have been so tutored by the world rather than by the Word that we make carnal gains, honours, and fame our primary ambitions, relegating Jesus to being our instrument of procuring these worldly goods now worshipped as totems of absolute value. By falling prey to the mass marketing of materialistic consumerism and jingoistic meritocracy, we have well and truly lost sight of who we really are and what we are meant to be doing on this dusty earth. We wallow in corruption.
Rather than looking forward to the New Jerusalem where God Himself dwells with us in a renewed and restored creation, where His light powers and illuminates the new heavenly City here on a new earth, we have allowed ourselves to be obsessed with the trappings of this old decaying and dying world. Instead of being in the world but not of the world, we have allowed ourselves to be co-opted by Satan to indulge in a premature dominion over this old world that is still under his tenure. We have fallen for Satan’s old parlour trick, like the third temptation he pulled on Jesus after his 40 days of fasting.
Of course, while living in this old creation, we as Christ’s ambassadors put our hands to the plow looking straight ahead to the Lord’s return even as we do our part, enact our calling as vice-regents of Christ on earth. Tending the garden and stewarding this planet by the wisdom, grace, and strength of His Spirit, we let our work reflect God’s nature and character. We let the work of our hands be the raw materials out of which Christ builds His kingdom to come. We help usher in His kingdom, not ours.
Persecuted Christians in many places are in many ways living out a far truer reality of the cross of Christ than we pampered believers soaking in virtual paradisaical comfort. Being regularly reminded of our suffering brothers and sisters in lands of persecution is both necessary and healthy to wake us out of our soporific stupor. The church has slept for too long.
And whenever we meet the prosperity gospel in its deceptive guise and destructive malice, we have a duty to call it out for the sham that it is and overturn the tables of greed that have made God’s holy temple into a den of thieves.