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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Atheists are Healthy, Wealthy, and Comfortable by Tony Reinke

tony-reinkeWe look around and try to understand whether God understands and whether God sees. Does God see the circumstances we see, and does he see my struggles, and does he see the prosperity of the godless? The godless are wealthy and comfortable. Is God asleep? Does he watch the circumstances of the world like we watch them? Does he see the injustice of it all?

As we weigh our circumstances, we ask the cost-benefit question: Are the benefits of following Christ really worth the price?

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he psalmist looks around and sees the faithless living opulent lives of comfort and blessing and long life. He looks around and sees that these same people are wicked oppressors of others. He thinks that they’re getting away with it. The simplicity of the psalmist’s challenge fuels our search for clarity and answers. Where is our sovereign, righteous God when the sex trafficker naps on his yacht?

God is good to the “pure in heart” (Psalm 73:1). That makes sense. So why doesn’t he frustrate and undermine the lives of the impure in heart?

A question like that will shake your footing, and this psalmist (his name is Asaph), is losing his footing. His steps had nearly come out from under him. The ground seemed to move and the grave seemed to turn and slip under his feet (Psalm 73:2).

The God-rejecters are wealthy, healthy, and comfortable (Psalm 73:4–15). Their toxic cocktail of health and wealth and comfort becomes a prosperity “gospel” of degradation. They live pompous and arrogant lives, as they look down on everyone else and abuse others. They have tongues that strut, so they despise God as unspeaking and powerless. They have bank accounts that prosper, so they despise God as worthless. They have indulgences that abound, so they despise God as an opiate for the poor and lowly.

Asaph looked at this predicament and felt the ground of his worldview shift under his feet: “As for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:2–3).

Footing is faith, and to lose your footing is to lose your faith — or almost to lose your faith. In this world we face seasons of unbelief that hit like a dizzying spell of spiritual vertigo.

Unbelief hits so hard because our spiritual life depends so fully on faith. “Faith is the inescapable way in which we live our lives now in relation to God,” wrote John Webster, a beloved theologian who passed away this summer. “We cannot get beyond it; there are, again, no other terms on which we can have God” (Confronted, 163).

Tony Reinke, Desiring God, Why Do We Envy the Wicked?, December 12, 2016

5 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Brian

    We look around and try to understand whether people understand and whether people see. Do Chriustian people see the circumstances non-believers see, and do they see my struggles, and do they see the prosperity of the Church? The godly are wealthy and comfortable. Are we all asleep? Do they watch the circumstances of the world like we watch them? Does they see the injustice of it all?
    etc.

    • Avatar
      Sarah

      No because they are taught that only the faithful deserve anything good and that what they want is the will of God. Any God whose majority of followers (at least so far as I have experienced) believe in cruelty and call it justice is not worthy of worship by anyone. I love the Christian dodge that true Christians don’t behave that way. A lot of true Christians believe Trump to be the president approved by God. The Bible advocates many of the stances that he takes. If Christians really cared about love, they would be a lot less judgmental and a little more humble in the way that they treat others. They should be apologizing to the rest of us instead of gloating over Trump stealing the presidency. Sorry, I am in a bit of a mood lately.

  2. Avatar
    Melody

    “As we weigh our circumstances, we ask the cost-benefit question: Are the benefits of following Christ really worth the price?”

    Indeed, we do ask that question. The cost is only your life after all…. That’s all there is to it, so why worry about it? /snark

  3. Avatar
    Sarah

    It seems to me that there are a lot of Christians who are the ones who have the health, the wealth, and the popularity and use it to exploit the poor, the vulnerable, the orphaned, the widowed, the foreigner, the disabled, the atheist, and everyone else they have declared as a sinner because they either have misfortune or disagree with them. When they suffer, it is merely a test from God.(Is God really great if he tests his creation through needless pain and suffering?)When everyone else suffers it is because they are hopeless sinners. Christianity has become a religion that worships cruelty, and Christians through their actions seem to have declared themselves gods with the absolute right to judge and punish as they please.

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