It seems today that any time you turn on Christian TV you hear someone- male or female- tell you how to be successful as a Christian. How to get the most out of God. How God can help you get ahead. I think it’s part of our inbred American individualism and “freedom” to be prosperous i.e. successful. To raise our estate in life not like a feudal prince born to title but through effort. Such is foundational to our nation from its inception. It’s one reason why Protestantism with its belief in the priesthood of the individual Christian and of his Christian right to flourish as an individual was received with open arms. Protestantism and ambition seemed to intertwine.
The fact is that this is true. There is such a thing as “success.” There is a sense of a “prosperity gospel.” The problem is in what we call “success.” The Bible indeed speaks of prosperity and it talks of the fool and his life of pain. It speaks of a life that stands the test of the floods of life and of a life that is washed away, “and great was its fall.” The Bible speaks of a life “firmly planted by streams of water” and the life “like chaff that the wind blows away.”
So, what is success and how is it attained?
Instead of a definition why don’t we look at the individual components to see what success looks like. One thing for sure, the final product will bear the image of Jesus Christ, God in human form. And this should be a jolt because there was a lot about Jesus that did not line up with our ideas of success. A long life? One free of pain? Wealth, riches, and possessions? A life of winning friends? Travel? Wife and children? Popularity? Educational degrees? Political influence? Land and houses? If any of these define success, Jesus will fall far short. As will Paul, Peter, James and John. Men who were “the scum of the earth, the dregs of all things.” Biblical success will have nothing to do with brains, talent, wealth or riches, strength, long life or beauty. It will have everything to do with a certain kind of heart. As God said to Isaiah,
“My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.
My ways than your ways.”
Stay tuned in days to come as we will examine
“The Theology of Success”