Question posed by Kevin Allen, Ancient Faith Radio
In parts of the Evangelical world there is a teaching that somewhat relates to the New Age view on prosperity: God or the universe wants the best for you. This equals victory over all your material circumstances, health, prosperity, better job, etc. What is your experience of this concept?
I believe that part of this American prosperity lifestyle/desire is based on Freemason ideas that have become part of our American culture. It is certainly not an Eastern Orthodox approach. That is not to say that we can’t have things: a good job, and a home, etc., but the whole concept of victory over your material circumstances, health, etc. is really not part of Christ’s teachings or the Eastern Orthodox Church. This approach is not life creating; but rather puts us at the mercy of worldly desires.
Christ was victorious over death and sin, but gave little attention to the material world, though he had/has power over it. He did not exert His power when tempted by the devil to prove He could or when challenged by the Jews to prove His divinity in a worldly manner, even on the Cross.
Part of the misconception of the Jews at the time was that their Messiah would be a worldly Messiah who would free them from suppression by the Romans. I see for myself, I too want to be saved from worldly oppression and sufferings and this often occurs when I lack awareness of my lack of personal responsibility or state of sin (missed the mark, which leads to separation from God and love). I want to be saved, but I do not want to change anything in myself.
I used to make myself wrong, “Why am I not more prosperous, healthy and happy? What is wrong with me? Why do I not have what others have?” I kept wanting to live up to a hopeless hope: that being healthy, wealthy and wise meant I had made it in the world. This approach, however, was an illusion that kept me running away from suffering, seeking relief in the New Age and Eastern spirituality, which temporarily assuaged my fears, made me ‘feel better’ for a while, while actually prolonging my suffering! My fears and all my concerns would return with an even stronger force. Then I would seek another spiritual fix. I was stuck in a revolving door, seeking spiritual gratifications that lead me nowhere.
My understanding now, from an Eastern Orthodox prospective, is that anything good that occurs in our lives is thanks to the grace of God, not our own efforts. We need to be in relationship with God. We are asked to work, serving God and others with our efforts, that is our part to play, but it is the grace of God that makes our efforts fulfilling.
God wants what’s best for our soul’s salvation and that may not equal what we/or society thinks is best for us! In fact my experience has been that my thoughts and or expectations about what would be best for me and when I should receive things are usually inaccurate! This is so dramatically different from how I approached life when involved in the New Age and Eastern religions.
Adverse situations, lack of comfort, financial challenges and chronic health issues forced me to seek help, make deep, internal, and heartfelt changes that eventually brought me back to God and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. While I still struggle with my worldly needs and desires everyday, I strive now to be grateful for all that God sends my way and live a life that revolves around God and others, not me and what I want. Each day I am called to trust in God and serve God and others; especially when things are not going my way. God knows what I need and I have so much to learn about what that truly means!