What is Man’s biggest need? Is it food, shelter and clothing? Or is it good health, wealth and prosperity?
This is a tricky question to start with, but can I challenge you to think of people who have every access of these basic needs and yet they are unsatisfied? I remember sharing with a brother who worked in a hospital, seeing and interacting with people in their deathbeds, and how the experiences made him to be convinced that man’s greatest need is far greater than the daily felt needs.
Our daily basic needs always scream for our responsiveness, with most of us falling prey to the consumerism and materialistic modern world as we seek for comfort and pleasure in this life. The reality of materialism becomes not only a dragon but also a god that demands our attention and loyalty.
There are countless delusions of prosperity in our modern materialistic world. Technology is playing a major role in dispensation of prosperity messages with every screen screaming for our attention on the ‘How To’ guides of a good life. Sadly, pastors instead of exalting Christ by preaching the true saving gospel of the Bible, they preach prosperity messages with some grains of biblical truth and appealing to our natural human desire. This kind of preaching has wealth and health messages at the core, neglecting to point out the sinfulness of man’s heart and our need for a savior.
Just as doctors need to identify a patient’s disease to be able to diagnose it well, preachers of the Word too need to get the right diagnosis of man’s greatest need to offer the right solution to the man’s greatest problem.
And what is this problem? It is a problem that made God to send Jesus into the world, which was not to deal with our physical, financial, and relational struggles, to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). We need to identify our biggest problem that although we know God, as Paul notes in his letter to Romans, we do not glorify him as we should and in fact, end up giving the glory of the Creator to what he has created (creature). This idolatry is the heart of sin and our greatest need is to fix the problem of sin.
One of the authors of a book against Prosperity Gospel notes that,
“My biggest problem is far worse than being hungry or broke! If I understand that the Almighty and Holy God is angry with me, then my financial struggles, relationship stresses and career ambitions can no longer be my first priority. My sin problem becomes the priority. ” (Quoted from Prosperity? Seeking the True Gospel,)
If we come to Jesus and follow Him for the material and prosperity blessings, then we are not any different from thousands who followed him after the miracle of feeding of the 5,000 men. True and faithful followers of Jesus are not after material advantage, but believe on him to receive eternal life (John 20:30-31).
We need to grasp that all the pains of life are symptoms of our real disease; our God-defying sin. Knowing sin is our biggest problem will help us seek a gospel that addresses not just the symptoms but the root cause. We need to be aware of any gospel that downplays human sinfulness and the eternal benefits of the gospel. The true gospel calls us to believe in Christ for forgiveness of our sins and hence escape God’s wrath.