I came across this blog post today 4 Things Jesus Didn’t Die For. I found the first point, the American Dream, pretty compelling;
He didn’t die to make you healthy, wealthy, secure, and comfortable. This may be your current state, but don’t let that to lead you into thinking it’s a promise. God blesses those that belong to him, sometimes with temporal comfort but spiritual chastening, and sometimes with temporal suffering but spiritual flourishing.
However, there is a devastatingly harmful teaching present in churches across America, which claims that physical “blessings” are a sure sign of God’s favor. Not only does this fly in the face of the entire Bible, but it is also a grievous offense to those Christians going through immense persecution in countries all over the world, often in impoverished circumstances. There is only one sure sign of God’s favor: the death of his Son.
Christian, Jesus’ death means he has taken on your sin, in exchange for his righteousness. God has shown us “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7) These are the only riches you are promised in this life; the joy and peace that comes with knowing that you have a good, loving God that has saved you at the infinite cost of his only begotten Son.
It’s taken a long time in my Christian walk for me to realize that we’ve kind of missed the boat if we think favor translates into my life looking pretty good. In fact, sometimes favor means just the opposite.
To be sure, this kind of thinking has some important ramifications for our Christian walk. When we are fooled into thinking that favor means things going great in our lives, we’ll think the Christian who is suffering or otherwise can’t cut a break is not experiencing God’s favor. This may result in a superior attitude against other Christians, especially if our life is going pretty good. You can hear this in the “favor ain’t fair” mantra spoken with an attitude, as if we have anything to brag about. Or if we are the ones in that situation, we might wonder what we’ve done wrong, why is God mad at us or even worse, does not love us. These are all lies of course. Scripture is full of characters who experienced hardship and persecution by believing the promises of God and being obedient to his will.
But the writer brings up something else we would be wise to consider – spiritual chastening. Yes, read Hebrews 12. Discipline is not necessarily punitive, but it is necessary for spiritual growth. That God chastens his sons and daughters is proof of his love and favor upon us. But these can be times where it looks like we aren’t in his good graces at all – suffering, loss, disappointment, life frustration, set backs. Just because life doesn’t look like things are going well doesn’t mean that God is not at work. In fact, through these trials is when he is most at work in our lives.
This is why thinking that favor means good stuff happening is so wrong. What can separate the elect from the love of Christ? Absolutely nothing! That’s favor.
So how do you know you’re experiencing God’s favor? If you are in Christ, trusting in his promises regardless of whether you are experiencing tangible blessings or not. You experience favor because you experience his grace, something totally undeserved.