I have not seen clear statistical evidence that fewer Christians die of cancer than non-believers or that they are immune in greater degree from the diseases that afflict the human race. Some of the kindest, most selfless persons I have known have had more than their share of bad health. The fact that they belong to Christ did not insulate them from disease.
Therefore, I will not follow Christ for promised healing.
I will not deny or dispute evidence of restoration of health. I will rejoice at every recovery from what seems to be hopeless, threatened death. I will not hesitate to pray for recovered health for my loved ones and acquaintances. I will set no limits on what God may do but I will not follow Christ for promised healing.
I see no sign that Christians escape disaster and accident more often than others. I’ve helped dear friends empty muddy water out of dresser drawers and new appliances after a disastrous flood. I remember as a child taking clothes to a widow with five children whose house had burned to the ground. A bullet makes no detour around the body of a believer.
Therefore, I will not follow Christ for any promised protection from disaster.
I will not scoff at amazing survivals nor deny that providence has and continues to work for the good of God’s own. I will continue to pray for protection from wicked men and tragedy, but I will not follow Christ for promised protection from accident or catastrophe.
I do not observe that Christians are especially favored with prosperity. Like James, we’ve all seen the rich oppressing the poor and justice is rarely perfect in this world. The psalmist has said that he “had not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” and in the deepest needs of this life, that is certainly true but all of us have known people of integrity who have not prospered.
Therefore, I will not follow Christ for promised freedom from physical want or hope of affluence.
I’m not sure that Christians have stronger personalities or fewer neuroses than non-believers. I do know that there is no bitterness like religious bitterness and no arrogance more insufferable. I have watched Christians suffer emotional and mental disabilities and though it may seem heretical, I am not sure that I would really enjoy living in the same house with either the Apostle Peter or Paul.
God wills that the mind of Christ be formed in us and there is no doubt in my mind that the Christian’s attitudes and actions will be improved by his Christianity, but I will not follow Christ for any promise of personality enhancement or perfection.
Why then follow Christ? Why become a disciple of Jesus when life may become more complicated as He so often warned?
For one reason alone:
In Jesus we behold the face of God. He is the truth, the everlasting truth, God in the flesh. I know that in His life, death, and resurrection, I am reconciled to God, the giver of life.
I believe that nothing can separate us from the love of God. He has all power and goodness and I trust Him and His promises. To him, I offer my life, damaged or whole, brief or full of years. It matters not. He is the one certain thing in an uncertain world. He is to be worshiped, not so something will happen to me or to the world. Something already has happened to me and the world, but because He is God who, through Christ, has reconciled the world to Himself. He saves me. He is my justification. He is the center that holds. To worship the God of our salvation, to offer sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving; that alone is our vocation. We offer our lives to God, not so as to be healthy, wealthy, or wise, not even so to gain the strength to do great things for Him; we offer our lives to Him because He alone has claim upon us. God is not a means to an end.
John C. Hutchinson Jr.