“Above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers…even as you walk in the truth.” (3 Jn. 2-3)
The word of God is clear as to the manner how we Christians ought to conduct ourselves in this world. Our Lord Jesus Christ during his earthly life laid out certain principles. Later additions were prescribed by the Church Fathers owing to circumstance prevailing at that time. Time never stands still. Each generation is faced with special circumstances. Be that as it may the fundamental problem is this: How to deal with the world that has no understanding, nor appreciation of spirit? They look askance at the folly of not going with the flow. We are among them but not one of them since we do not contribute worthwhile to the trends they subscribe to? Under the Imperial Rome the Christians would rather die than worship the deified Caesar. Being practicing Christians there are certain areas we may balk at. It is like being unequally yoked with skeptics and the worldly, or like a square peg in a round hole, which I should admit is not a happy comparison. There is not hole but certain custom that marks the worldly to which whether we actively support or not is left to us. In the history of the early Church the Christians posed as contrary to the norm of good citizens since they did not exchange their God for Caesar or for bread and circus. This is relevant even now: we do not fit the norm of the worldly.
Wealth is such a deceptive article that many are carried away by flaunting their wealth, including many pastors and preachers of today. They excuse it on the grounds ‘God gave this wealth to prove nothing is lacking for a child of God?’ Is wealth,- and attendant luxury, which goes only as far as the body, all there is to Christian living?How we ought to live among people who have made wealth as be all and the only criteria for success, is of vital interest to us. Jesus has warned,’ Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also'(Mt.6:21). There is a treasure that has the qualities which the world cannot get at. Treasure that body craves directs the will of man and as such he cannot please God since he has let the spirit out of his calculations. Only those TV Preachers who have made money as the means to advertise God shall know (if they care to) of what state is their spiritual life.
From the key verse what are we to understand? Being a good Christian doesn’t stand in the way of becoming prosperous by his industry. We also have to seek good health as prerequisite for enjoying good life. ‘Even as your soul prospers..’ What is soul?Before I go into the topic of ‘Soul’ and its nature, it is simpler to substitute the word ‘spirit.’ For a Christian prosperity is not simply attending to the needs of the body but both body and spirit as one. Hence the centre of gravity does not fall alone in what material riches we possess but in such treasure that sustain our spiritual life as well. Starving the spirit to pamper the body is a fool’s business. Instead we make our body as a vehicle for enriching the spirit so body spirit and soul may prosper as one. Afterall this earth is our nursery and we have long way ahead of us, which we can do only in the strength of the meat'(1 Ki.19:7-8) We need spiritual strength for such a journey. The Spiritual body is as important as physical body. Remember the story of Elijah by the juniper tree?God sent an angel to instruct his prophet. ‘Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee’.
The Lord is concerned for our well-being. God is a spirit and we have by faith received the selfsame spirit. Which is needful for understanding the will concerning us in our everyday lives.
There is one way of serving the body which is not what the spirit wants us to have. It is a broad way leading to destruction. W have seen how broad the way was before the 2008 global down turn. It was so broad for all the lemmings who wanted to make money as quickly as possible could move at breakneck speed. Some followed the path of Madoff or some other whose luxurious lifestyle was most attractive than leading a life of moderation. Most came to a sorry end since greed had taken over their control. They forgot the warning: you cannot serve two masters equally and be faithful in any.
The worldly are those who set out to serve Mammon.
Mammon is contrary to God who gives even before we ask. Hasn’t the Lord Jesus assured us this? ‘..your Father knoweth what things you have need of, before you ask him’.(Mt.6:8) Thus when you say the Lord’s prayer your Amen is the final turn into the lock to access the bounties from God.
‘How much more shall your Father…give good things to them that ask him? (Mt.7:11)
( To be continued)