Sadly, much of American Christianity is infatuated with the notion that, once I become a Christian, then God will order everything in my life such that I will be showered with material blessings galore–health, wealth, and prosperity of all kinds–even a hundredfold byond that which I give to the Lord. The litany of charlatans posing as ‘pastors’ who proclaim such business is long and distinguished. C.F.W. Walther, one of the founding fathers of American Lutheranism disagrees. First he takes us to the words of Scripture…
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. (Eph 5.15-16, NLT)
Then Walther goes on to explain that this notion couldn’t be more untrue.
With the words in [Ephesians 5], Saint Paul warns all Christians that, in this life, they should never count on good, peaceful, and comfortable days, either for themselves or for their faith. Instead, they should expect to exerience evil, dangerous, and woeful days. Where Christ is, there is also the cross. Therefore, as soon as a person has turned to Christ, he cannot think everything will go well with him as a child of God’s grace. Rather, he must expect that the cross will now be his inseperable companion until his death. (God Grant It, 813)
His words are a far cry from those you’ll hear on any given Sunday around the country in some of America’s largest congregations and on TV; however, the words of Walther reflect the cruciform nature of the Christian life. “Where Christ is, there is also the cross.” Let these words of warning be also words of encouragement, for where the cross is, there is also the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Thanks be to God!