Sometimes, we use our faith as money that allows us get more stuff from God. Lots of faith? Expect lots of stuff. Little faith? Expect little stuff. I was reminded of this yesterday in a comment someone posted on this site.
I wrote a brief update on a faith healer and included a link to a seminary professor’s story about his autistic son not getting healed at one of the services. I don’t have an autistic child and cannot imagine the difficult blend of hope and frustration and anger and a thousand other emotions in experience like that. So when someone responded to that story with the following comment, I was a little surprised:
To all those people mentioning the ones who DIDN’T get healed from Bentley:
God answers prayers of faith. And faith works by love. If you are not in your love walk with your neighbors, then I don’t believe God will answer your prayer. See Mt 5:23,24. Faith mixed with love, my friend is how you will receive your healing. Not by attending a service “hoping” you will be healed by a man. It’s times like these that many people glorify the man being used for the healing, even though he specifically states it is God working through him. Just wanted to clarify that.
I don’t think the guy that wrote that comment meant it the way it sounded. I think he’s a good guy. It just came out the wrong way, something I am often guilty of too. I don’t think he intended to call out or address specifically a dad whose son was not healed of autism. I don’t think a mom who was not healed of cancer or a little girl with a brain tumor was his intended audience despite addressing the comment to people that DIDN’T get healed. I refuse to believe that someone would leave an unloving comment about how you need to love your neighbors. That makes no sense to me.
His comment is true in the sense that we should not glorify man and to tell you the truth, I was glad he wrote it, because it convicted me. I might not write those same words, but sometimes I live my life that way.
How? Well, sometimes in the week before a speaking engagement, I try to live “extra holy.” I feel this internal pressure to be super good all week so that God will reward me when I speak at a church. I agree it is important to have a clean heart and head, but this is not about me eliminating distractions and sin. This is about me trying to have more or better faith in order to earn something from God.
Knowing that about myself, I wanted take that logic a little further. If we believe that more faith equals more stuff, whether that stuff is a healing or a Hummer, shouldn’t we come up with some sort of standard conversion rate? Shouldn’t we, as Christians have a universal system that tells us how much we’re going to get when we take our faith to the God ATM and trade it in for goods?
So that’s what I did.
The Stuff Christians Like Faith/Stuff Conversion Guide
1. A new car
OK, what are we talking about here? Domestic? Foreign? Luxury sedan? Sleek sports car? There are a lot of options. Talk to me. You want a BMW 3 Series? That’s an easy one. See, when it comes to cars, God bases the amount of faith you need to get a new one on the level of vehicle it is. A BMW 7 series takes more faith than a 5 series, an Audi A6 takes more holiness than a A4. You want navigation too? OK, that’s going to require 14% more prayer. Overall, I suggest you volunteer at a soup kitchen three times and get some new road trip music, because like Oprah said, “You’re getting a car! You’re getting a car!”
2. A new house
There’s an amazing planned neighborhood called “Vickery” near my house. It’s one of those communities with a cute little downtown area and a YMCA and everyone walks everywhere and waves at you while eating fruits of the forrest gelato. My wife and I went on a walk there the other night and decided we wanted to live there. Only we’re roughly $700,000 short. So when we got in the car and started listening to the song “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay I told her we need to just pray the house into our lives. I started singing along to the song, which kind of goes da da da da dada da da, and changed the lyrics to “Vickery Victory.” The whole ride home I just sang, “Vic-ker-y Vic-tor-y.” It was pretty spectacular. The lesson is that if you really want a new house, you have to have enough faith to make up silly songs and sing them to God. He loves them.
3. A new job
I agree, that boss is a jerk. It’s time to get a job where they appreciate you and give you the freedom to live up to your full potential. No more TPS reports for you. Let’s see, new job, new job, oh yes, here it is. If you want a new job you’re going to need to fast. But when you do it, make sure you tell lots of people about it. Make it a very dramatic, public fast to make sure you get credit for it. It’s like when George on Seinfeld kept tipping the calzone guy when he wasn’t looking. A tip that is not seen is a tip that never happened. Same with a fast. If you want a new job, go big, go loud, go proud.
4. A new boyfriend/girlfriend
Ohhh, now we’re cooking with gas, yes indeed, now we’re cooking with gas. Here’s what to do if you’re a guy that wants to date that girl at church. Start underlining more in your Bible. Get a fanny back like carrier for your Bible with pens and zippers and Velcro. Write little poems to God and then accidentally drop them at church and pretend you didn’t know they were there by saying things like, “Oh that, just another Jesus poem I wrote for my main man.” Ladies if you want a Christian guy, one word, “tankini.” On the next labor day retreat, you North Point ladies hear me talking to you, rock the tankini. Heck, put 14 “WWJD” bracelets on each arm so that you look like a holy Wonder Woman. Not only will all these things earn you faith points, but they will make you look very spiritual.
5. A Jetski or Wave runner
Daniel Tosh said it best, “They say money can’t buy happiness. That phrase should end with ‘just kidding.’ Because it buys a wave runner and it’s impossible to frown on a wave runner.” So true Daniel, my fellow PK, so true. Let’s figure out how to get you a really cool wave runner or boat. I’m thinking you may need to throw out all your secular music, movies and video games. Again, don’t do it secretly. I’m talking on your front lawn, with a small fire and a lot of friends invited over to support your decision. And if you have any Radiohead, you should probably just give it to me.
6. Reveal the meaning of my life
Most people know that the only way to “find yourself” is to backpack across Europe. Hopefully you won’t get your walkman stolen while you’re sleeping in the Peace & Love hostel in Paris. Hypothetically speaking. You might actually need to quit your job, sell everything you own and do la year long mission trip to earn this one. This is a big one, we’re not talking about a wave runner or a date with a cute boy. This is the question. So expect to jump through lots of faith hoops to get this one.
That list is silly but there are definitely some situations in the Bible that might give cause to this way of thinking. Because we want to control our lives or manage our relationship with God, I think it’s possible to read verses and interpret them the way we want. To take James 2:24 as a call to earn more with our faith. To ignore Ephesians 2:8 and start to believe what we are doing on this planet is about works. That the cross started the conversation but now it’s up to us to get more and do more and earn more in God’s name.
Will God give you a new car because you love your neighbor better? Doubtful. Will God give you a new car because He likes giving us stuff? Maybe. But can we manipulate God into giving us more stuff by living a certain way, whether you call that living with more faith or name it
and claim it or praying the blessing into your life? Never. Or at least that’s what I think.
p.s. I didn’t include healing in the list of items because I felt like that would be really insensitive and that God would probably leg drop me if I did.