Lotto Christianity

Near miss, jumbo shrimp, unbiased opinion…I love oxymoron…juxtaposing two seemingly incompatible concepts is a seedbed for some thought provoking discussion.   Some of the best and worst sermon titles attempt to incorporate metaphor or oxymoron…I cringe at some titles I once used and thought inspired, only to wonder years later, what was I thinking?!  I heard one lately called the “Cock-a-doodle Denial”.  I’m guessing something to do with Peter’s denial of Jesus.  Nice try but I think that one sounded better in prayer than it did on the church marquee.

Floyd McClung, former international executive director of YWAM wrote,Many people want to skip the mundane and graduate to the spectacular…but that is not God’s way.”.  I can be like that, wanting to skip the mundane things of life and quickly move on to what I deem as fun and exciting.  I think most people would choose the spectacular over the mundane.  A few weeks ago, millions of mundane skippers lined up in droves at area lotto outlets to take their chance of scoring the largest lottery prize in world history.  Masses of humanity herding like cattle in line, hoping that their lives would be infinitely better with six hundred million plus dollars in the bank.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many Christians were in those lines?  Lotto Christians.  I think its an oxymoron.

Okay this is not a diatribe on gambling, nor an effort to put a guilt trip on believers who spent a buck on a lotto ticket (though I don’t recommend it).  I am more curious about the idea that seems to be infiltrating Christianity again that intimates that life would be better if only I have a “breakthrough”.  There are a number of circumstances that I could envision right now that would make my life “better” but I am not certain that those would be God’s intention for my life.  The deeper I dive into God’s Word and His intention for my life, the less I see about His desire to bring about the blessings that I want, when I want them and the way I define them.  Oh I believe God wants to bless, I’m just not convinced He and I always have the same dictionary for the word.  Take a look at Romans 8:28-29.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (NIV)

Conformed. “To undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one’s original nature.”  As this relates to being changed into the image of Christ this sounds painful.  And guess what?  It is.  Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could attain “washboard abs” by prayer instead of 25,000  crunches?  Claim your abs, get your abs.  Wouldn’t instant Christlikeness be awesome…kind of like lotto Christianity…pray a prayer, get your Jesus on.  But when I consider the process in which my Father develops Christ’s character in me, I don’t see much that is instant or easy.

One of the most theologically challenging scriptures I stumbled over years ago comes out of Hebrews 5:8-9,

 “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Did I read that right?  The Son of God was perfected in obedience through suffering?  Chew on that for awhile.  You may actually find comfort in your own pain knowing that Jesus was perfected in His submission to the Father through suffering as well.  If that was the path that the sinless Lamb of God had to take, do I assume my path will be different?

As you consider the will of God for your life, take a moment and reflect on what God’s intention is for you according to His Word in Romans 8.  Yes God does bring about the good, but it is for His glory and Kingdom purpose, not primarily our ease and comfort.  So many are looking for the quick fix, the instant ‘blessing’, the well worn path that will make this journey of life simple and painless.  I have found that those who presume this to be God’s intention are more often disillusioned than fulfilled.  So rest in the knowledge that God is indeed in control of your life and His good purposes are being established in your life so that the world can see Christ in you, not just a “lotto jackpot”.