From Almighty to Aladdin

Aladdin lampFar too many Christians in the contemporary church have exchanged the Almighty for Aladdin, expecting God to grant their daily wishes for wealth and health. To them, Jesus is little more than a genie in a bottle, just waiting to be released to respond to their every desire. They mistakenly believe God has saved them and exists in their lives to give to them the things of this world that will make their Christianity comfortable and convenient.

The problem with a comfortable and convenient Christianity is that it is, more often than not, Christ-less! But this is not for you!

To be sure, God often gives His people wealth and health; these are good gifts from a good and loving God. But these happy providences are not the primary “good” God has ordained to give to His children. God’s good for us may very well include storms and suffering, challenges and conflict . . . all of which accomplishes the purpose of Romans 8:29 —

Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

I have learned over the years that a comfortable and convenient Christianity is a poor “conformer” to the likeness of Jesus. God did not save you to make you comfortable and to make much of your salvation; He saved you to conform you to Christ so that you would make much of your Savior. God saved you to give you “every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3), not every temporal blessing. It’s true that our Father has given most Christians in this country tremendous temporal blessings. Like manna from heaven, He rains down blessing upon blessing to His people, but those blessings are not intended to make us comfortable!

Even a cursory glance through the Scriptures will affirm that God was not concerned about making His children comfortable. Where were the temporal blessings in the lives of the apostles? All but John died a martyr’s death, and John died in exile on the Isle of Patmos. God was not Aladdin to the apostles; He was the Almighty, and they knew He did not exist to give to them possessions. The apostles were His possessions, and they poured themselves out to expand the cause of His Kingdom.

Far from “comfortable and convenient,” Christianity for the apostles was about a sold-out commitment to Christ and His Kingdom. They gave no thought to expanding their own little kingdom. They understood that they had been bought at a price, and that price was the precious blood of their Savior (1 Peter 1:18-19). They also knew their salvation was not primarily about them; it was about the One who saved them. So they lived lives of self-sacrifice, not self-protection. They gave no thought to what they were getting; it was always and only about what they were giving in service to God, for His glory and the good of others.

So . . . are you serving the Almighty or seeking to be served by Aladdin? What does the confession of your life say? What would those closest to you say? Is your greatest goal to be conformed to the likeness of Christ or to be comfortable in your Christianity? Only when our greatest goal is Christlikeness will we be ready, willing, and able to exchange Aladdin for the Almighty, receiving with glad hearts whatever God delivers . . . knowing that its ultimate purpose is to make us more like Jesus.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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