Tuesday, April 15, 2014

depravity before prosperity :: a passion week post

{WARNING :: this post wound up longer than intended.  Every once in a while I feel compelled to do a whole lot of writing and not so much editing.  So I'm taking a deep breath and hitting publish.  Thanks for your grace.  And as always - I would love to hear your 'speak the truth in love' voice in this conversation.  I know I'm not alone in my wrestling so please, by all means, comment away!}

It means corruption but it goes deeper than that.  
Your computer can be corrupt.  A company can be corrupt.  
Depravity is the corruption of our very souls.

Acknowledging depravity in this world is acknowledging that something went terribly wrong shortly after perfect man was created in the perfect garden by the perfect God.  That 'something' is often called ‘sin’ and it immediately separated us from our God…our Creator.  
{Remember that whole bit with the sneaky serpent and the forbidden fruit?}
Sin reflects the depravity of man...and woman.  
You and me.

Yet even in that moment of original sin, when the bittersweet taste of rebellion was still on their tongues, God had it in mind to bring us back to himself.  

It was the result of human sin that caused the great divide between creation and Creator but it was the result ofdivine love that reached back across to take hold of us.

I hear a lot of talk about a 'prosperity gospel'.  
I don’t know everything there is to know about this position within the context of Christianity.  
I couldn't say for certain which people or churches or organizations would identify themselves as believing in a prosperity gospel or which ones are attracted to this line of thinking.  
It’s not for me to judge or analyze or put under a miscroscope but I will say this...  

The gospel, for me, does not begin with prosperity - it begins with depravity.

And when it does...prosperity looks a lot different than you might imagine.

It doesn't look like my fulfilled dreams.
It looks like His fulfilled dreams.

It doesn't look like
a higher paying job
a new car
a bigger house
a clean bill of health
the man of your dreams
the children you always wished for...
Could God offer us those things and then allow us to use them for His glory and honor?  Absolutely!
While there is nothing inherently wrong with these dreams, if they are not God's dreams for you then achieving them is not prosperity...it is selfishness and disobedience...it is completely missing the point.

And the point is this...
if God never answered a single one of my prayers from this day forward
He would still be God
I would still love Him and trust Him with my heart {however broken it might be}
because my faith and my God are not evidenced in
my answered prayers
my successful career
my picture-perfect marriage
my healthy children
my worldly prosperity...
they are evidenced in the person of Jesus Christ and what his life, death, and resurrection means for a depraved soul like mine...and yours.

A lot of people may be shaking their heads right now and wagging their fingers while telling me I should...
Be more positive
Don’t be so dramatic
Live in freedom
Take hold of the abundant life
Access all the blessings that God has for you
Focus on the good in the world

And in response I say – I do.
But there is something I do before any of that.  
I acknowledge my own depravity - my own inferior position to a superior God - so that my view of prosperity is God's view of prosperity...not the world's.  
Don't ever be fooled into thinking they are one and the same.  
The way God wants to prosper you is not the way the world wants to prosper you.

And so I plead with Him in prayer that I would never, never, ever ask Him to build me up by the world's standards...would never, never, ever expect Him to give me everything I wish for, because what He has already given is enough.  

I don't need to stand up in front people and carefully articulate a beautiful story of how my God heard my prayers for this or that and then answered them just as I desired and so...see there!  He's real!  He exists!  This is the evidence!  He wants to make all our dreams come true!

There is something far more important than accessing God's blessings for myself, 
setting my sights on the 'good life'...
there is Jesus.
In Him alone I prosper.

And by that I do not mean that if I worship and follow him I will prosper.
I mean that the very experience of knowing him, being loved by him, and loving others is prosperity.  
There is nothing more I should ever want...but I do.  
I want more.  We all do.
So I get flat on my face and beg God to prune away those prideful branches so that contentment and surrender to his dreams for my life will grow in their place.

God, in his goodness, may see fit to give me every single thing I've ever dreamed of...or He may not.

The desire of my heart is not that I would use God to achieve my own prosperity but that he would use me to achieve His.

The true richness and beauty of the gospel can only be fully grasped when I fully grasp my inadequacies, my weakness, my sin, my mistakes, my position far from home…and the fact that I don't deserve one single thing - including my salvation.

We deem this passion week holy.  It is the sacred road we walk right up to Easter...to the tomb...to
     the empty place that was evidence of abundant love.

Do you want to know the lyrics that lead me just all out weep these holy days?  They are from Laura Story and they remind me that - 
instead of chasing after worldly prosperity,
I can rest in my own depravity, 
so that I might find true prosperity
in Jesus' perfect divinity.

I’m so tired of trying to be something I could never be.
Be my God so I can just be me.

The entire song is a beautiful reminder to me of who I am and who God is. The true answer to those two questions will set your sideways, upside down world completely straight again.

Maybe you could use a little holiness in your week.

Maybe, like me, you need someone to be your…
Mighty Warrior
Life Line

As you listen to the words let him be all of that for you, so this Easter week - and always - you can just be you.

And know that in your deep depravity…
His prosperity, not your own, is worth seeking above all else.
{Whew!  See...I wasn't kidding with that warning, was I?!}

How do you view prosperity within the context of your faith?