Q. A friend of mine attends a non-demoninational Christian Church. He told me recently that if I am a true follower of Jesus, God will bless me with happiness, a good family, and with financial success. He said that God wants to bless us with all things, because he wants us to be happy. Is this true?
A. There is a popular movement in America called the “Prosperity Gospel.” This movement teaches that when we become Christians, Christ will remove the suffering in our lives, and replace it with material blessings, with blessings in our families, our careers, and our relationships. The “Prosperity Gospel” is very popular because it promises that God will fulfill our desires, no matter what they are, as long as we follow him.
The truth is more beautiful than that. God does want to fulfill our desires. But he also wants to transform what we desire. He wants us to be transformed to desire him far more than he we desire new cars, or career success, or even successful relationships. God wants to transform us, so that we desire to love as he loves, and to bring the world closer to him.
Sometimes, following Christ means that we suffer. And certainly, following Christ doesn’t remove us from the ordinary suffering that comes with being a person. But when we suffer, we are united to Christ, who suffered on the Cross. And when we suffer in unity with Christ, we are transformed—becoming ever more like him. When we complain about our struggles, or difficulties, or suffering, we should remember that God doesn’t promise to take away every problem life gives us— instead, he promises to be with us, and to give us the grace to encounter every challenge, every struggle, and every need with his wisdom, his power, and his love. That is what it really means to prosper.
Write to Ask the Register online or at 3700 Sheridan Blvd, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.