Everyday Theology: God wants your best life… now!

How often have you heard something like this:

“God wants your best life… now!”

Generally speaking, this idea means that God wants you to be materially wealthy, and if you are, it means you’ve found favor with Him. But if you haven’t… well, you might not be seeking Him enough, or you might have some sin in your life preventing you from attaining His favor. Perhaps God has yet to activate the “success gene” in your DNA, as one gentleman with a big smile in the great nation of Texas has said.

So, dear reader, is this true? Does living your best life mean you are “happy, healthy and wealthy,” and if you’re not then there’s something wrong with your relationship with God?

This idea that God wants all His people to be materially wealthy is pure nonsense. Worse, it’s one of the clearest examples of a damnable false gospel (cf Gal. 1:8) in that it is a blatant attempt to use Jesus as a means to getting an idol (in this case, money).

Now here’s the thing: God does want your best life… but that best life may seem awfully unpleasant at times.

Your Best Life Might be Rough

Have you ever noticed that, as you’ve read through the Bible, there’s a common theme in the lives of God’s people?

Financial prosperity? Living whatever is typically defined as “the good life?” No.

Suffering.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master,” we are told in Matt. 10:24. Jesus suffered brutally. Being far from financially affluent, He was betrayed, denied by His friends, lied about, beaten, flogged, mocked, spit upon, and ultimately crucified on a bloody roman cross, all so that our sins might be forgiven.

So, if Jesus suffered, why would we think that we’d be free of a life of suffering, particularly when we’re told to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

All the apostles knew this well. All but John were martyred—and it wasn’t for lack of trying (they boiled him in oil and he came out unscathed… so he was eventually banished to Patmos). Peter, according to tradition, was crucified upside down, because he considered himself unworthy to share the same fate as his Lord. Paul’s suffering is described in detail all throughout the New Testament. He was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, flogged… He was once stoned so mercilessly that he appeared to have died (cf. Acts 14:19). He got back up and went back to preaching.

Life in Abundance

Jesus tell us that he “came that they [his disciples] may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). This verse is one of many that’s been perverted into referring to financial wealth. But to have life abundantly doesn’t mean a life of financial prosperity—it means a life of joy in God.

“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. 1:5).

Through trial, God is bringing us joy and making us more like Jesus. Sometimes that means that we’ll have material wealth, but sometimes we won’t. The goal is not to have the biggest pile of cash at the end. (Remember the parable of the rich fool, who had an abundance, and rather than being generous, horded it. In the end, God killed him for because of his covetousness. Read the whole story in Luke 12:13-34.) The goal is to follow Paul’s example, when he says, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:10-13, emphasis mine).

That’s the what it truly means to live your best life. May we all seek to live a truly abundant life.

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  • http://www.jamieseabrook.com Jamie Seabrook

    This is a great post Aaron.

    Since God has a desire to transform us into the image of His Son, trials are frequently necessary to get us there, to develop our faith, to learn to trust God, and to develop more perseverance. If we don’t learn from a trial, we may just hit the back of the line again….

    Trials give us the opportunity to live out what God has already shown us in the light.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks Jamie – This statement “Trials give us the opportunity to live out what God has already shown us in the light” is very profound and one that I’ve seen borne out repeatedly over the last year in my own life.

      Thanks for commenting :)

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  • Keystone

    God wants your best life … now! is a flat out lie.
    First, our best life will not occur on this planet, but in heaven.

    Second, while on Earth, Jesus Christ Himself had no trouble with poverty and directed that the poor will always be around.
    “Mark 14:7 (New International Version)
    “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.”

    Now if “the poor you will always have with you” are words from the Master directly, then poverty is an acceptable way of life.

    This is often superceded by the prophets proclamation, a basis often used for the Prosperity Gospel:
    Jeremiah 29:11
    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

    Jeremiah quoting the Lord saying “plans to prosper you” is at variance with the Lord saying “the poor you will always have with you”.

    But a person with cancer would certainly feel “prospered” by God, were they to be healed via chemo or any other way. Restored health is truly propering.

    And a poor coal miner, having won the Lotto and receiving millions has destroyed his life with all that wealth…..losing all of it in the end (West Virginia guy if I recall correctly).

    I would call this phrase (in this post) less Everyday Theology, and more Wishful Thinking.

    As I peruse Everyday Theology from your days of yore, I am finding this sector to be a sort of Snopes.com area of Biblical “truth” or “not truth”.
    It is much needed in these times, as distortions of what the Bible actually says are rampant among pastors and lay folks alike.

    Confusion is the hallmark of satan, so it is to be expected by believers…..and exposed under the light of truth.

    Pilate failed Snopes long ago as he declared “What is truth?”……
    while staring Jesus Christ eyeball to eyeball…..
    The Truth was in his eyes and yet, Pilate failed to perceive it.

    This Everyday Theology needs amplified on a regular basis.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks Keystone; glad you’re enjoying this series. It’s one of the ones I enjoyed researching and writing the most.