The Popularity Cult
Writer: Billy Graham | 1991 | billygraham.org
In some churches and religious television programs, we see an effort to make Christianity popular and always positive. This may be a comfortable cushion for those who find the hard facts too difficult. Within the New Testament, there is no indication that Christians should expect to be healthy, wealthy, and successful in this present age. [Read the The Prosperity Gospel Lie.]
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. John 15:18 (NIV)If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you.John 15 (KJV) verse 18
Christ never told his disciples that they would get an Academy Award for their performances, but He did tell them to expect to have troubles.
This age is interested in success, not suffering. We can identify with James and John who wanted choice seats in the kingdom. We might even ask for reclining chairs and soft music.
Our Lord was ridiculed, insulted, persecuted, and eventually killed. In the face of opposition, He went about "doing good." Even His enemies could find no fault in Him. He became the greatest teacher of moral values the world has ever known, but after only three years of public ministry He was executed as a criminal.
"Good" people do not escape suffering in this life. The Bible lists in Hebrews 11 the heroes of the faith, both Jew and Gentile, who were tortured, imprisoned, stoned, torn apart, and killed by the sword. They didn't wear designer jeans but went about in animal skins, destitute and tormented. Those early believers wandered in deserts, crossed mountains, and hid in caves. They were the homeless of that time, without even a cardboard shelter.
In America today, being a Christian is sometimes equated with having good health. Some popular nutrition and psychology publications recommend that a sound body may require a strong spiritual life. Many of these writers lean toward a hybrid of Eastern religious thought and humanistic psychology, but others have been biblically sound. I believe that exercise and proper eating habits are very important, since the Bible says that the body is God's holy temple, but I don't think that superbodies equate with committed Christian discipleship. Some of the greatest saints I've known have been those with physical infirmities.
Joni Eareckson Tada is a living example. Joni cannot walk and has only limited use of her arms. God has used her to touch millions of lives as a result of her handicap. She is a greater testimony to His love than many others who have strong bodies.
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things. 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV)For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.1 Timothy 4 (KJV) verse 8
To be a disciple of Jesus means to learn from Him, to follow Him. The cost may be high.
An excerpt from HOPE for the Troubled Heart, pages 36-38.