Saturday, January 21, 2017

Why follow God if he doesn’t guarantee health or wealth?

During a spiritual conversation, I happened to mention that God doesn’t guarantee career success or wealth or health or those things people often call “the good life.” He said, “Then why should I follow God?” I emailed my answer, a trimmed version of which follows.
Dear Luke,
I’ve given more thought to your question, “Why follow God, if there’s no guarantee that things will go well?” We already talked about the inevitability of certain problems and the uncertainty of life, but I remembered this passage.
I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all. 
Ecclesiastes 9
There is no course of action that guarantees wealth, health, happy children, etc., but I can do things that make those outcomes more likely: love my wife (Ephesians 5), not exasperate my children (Ephesians 6), listen before speaking (James 1) and so on.

But the main thing I want to emphasize is the passage which says that in all things God works to make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). Just a simple example: suppose I was getting killed by a bunch of people. That happened to Jesus, and he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23). Or, back to Ephesians 5:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.
So, I want to be like Jesus, who gives his life for the church; who prayed, “Father, forgive them.” Sure, it’s nice to be rich and to have a good job, etc. But when I die, will I be happy to see God?

Will I hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

Will I have real life (Jesus said in John 17: This is life eternal, to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he sent)?

If I say I want that, then I’ll want to follow him today.

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