Today’s The 700 Club questions start with one about whether we get tangible rewards for our faith. If we’re good and faithful are we promised a long and healthy life? Are we promised a prosperous life? Unfortunately, the answer is offered up by Pat Robertson, someone who, in his own ministry and with every episode he produces, does his best to convince people the exact opposite of what he says.
I have heard Christians say we are not promised tomorrow. Is that something from the Bible? I thought that’s what faith and God’s promises were for? -Carissa
Nothing is guaranteed — but did you really need the Bible to tell you that? Still, since you asked if the concept is, indeed, Biblical and you were never told where in the scripture it’s discussed, turn to one such instance in James 4: 13-17:
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
Don’t take it for granted that you’ll see tomorrow or that you’re promised great things. No one is guaranteed a long life and no one is guaranteed a prosperous life. Christian belief in Jesus Christ means that eternal life comes after our time on Earth, not during.
No matter our beliefs, our lives here are fleeting, especially in the cosmic scheme of things. The point is to make the best of the time we do have. According to James, that means doing good. There are worse ways to live.
With all that said, Robertson couldn’t leave it there and walked back his “of course we’re not” with one last mutter about living a long, healthy life if you worship and serve the Lord, as if he remembers that he’s supposed to be preaching the prosperity gospel.
Fill out these check boxes, pray and God will give you not just spiritual benefits, but health and wealth and countless earthly blessings in return. You don’t have to wait until Heaven because religion becomes some sort of divine reward system.
Yes, there are places in the Bible that talk about living long lives in the service of God. Proverbs, in particular is full of these pithy lines.
9:11 For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.
10:27 The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.
But these are just principles, not promises. How many good people have died young while the greedy, selfish and violent lived into old age? Again, this is something you likely knew for yourself.
The problem is, the folks at The 700 Club do their best to make you forget the truths of the world and even of Christianity, in favor of their own versions. They’re pros at packaging slick, uplifting testimonies about people whose devotion to God is so strong, they beat cancer. Or who give away their last $1,000 to the church and are rewarded with a financial windfall. But those stories are just as one-sided as social media. All those exciting photos you see from people living gorgeous, fun filled lives? They’re carefully curated to present the illusion of perfection, nonstop fun and adventure.
The 700 Club only shows the good stuff, they don’t show the people whose prayer doesn’t bring about miracles. The ones who give away their money and are left destitute. They just make it seem like if your belief is strong enough, you will get your reward. Money, health, long life — you name it.
But for the average person for whom this doesn’t happen? Like with social media, the end result is all these people are left feeling left out and inadequate. Like their lives aren’t as amazing. Like they aren’t praying hard enough or aren’t worthy enough or faithful enough to reap the benefits.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Evangelical or Catholic, Muslim or Hindu, believer or agnostic. Your faith doesn’t matter, your spirituality doesn’t matter. Any one of us could die tomorrow. Any one of us could enter into poverty. We’re all equal in life and in death so it’s up to us to make the most of the time we have.