It seems that much of today’s evangelical Christian version of the gospel of grace is that of the “health and wealth gospel” that emphasises on prosperity, health and healing. I am not really against the health and wealth aspects of the gospel as I acknowledge Jesus came to heal the sick and multiply loaves and fishes to feed many; however, I feel that just focusing mainly on health and wealth would be doing the gospel of Jesus Christ a great disservice because the basic foundation of his ministry is all about love, peace, freedom, justice and equality.
Otherwise, how is it that 2,000 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, there is still much hatred, discrimination, injustice and inequality around the world, even though there is generally an increase in the overall prosperity and health and longevity of people mainly due to scientific and technological advancements? While more people are enjoying a better standard of living with access to food and clean water, and more people are living longer and healthier lives, many more people are also suffering from inequality and injustice. For instance, women are still oppressed and discriminated in many patriarchal societies, and are not given equal positions of leadership in many institutions and organisations. (Read here) Gays and lesbians are still stigmatised and demonised by fundamentalist religious fraternity and right-wing conservatives, which have driven some of them to leave families and communities and even attempt suicide. (Read here and here) Minority races are still being marginalised in some sectors of society. (Read here)
Apparently, something is amiss in the presentation and application of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Surely the “health and wealth gospel” is not all that is cut out to be, when it comes to healing all who are oppressed, sharing possessions with one another and treating one another as equal. Even the so-called “grace revolution” has not lived up to its billing because intolerance and prejudice still abound and rear their ugly heads in evangelical circles, especially when their doctrines of a literal hell and penal substitution theory, the supposed inerrancy of the bible, as well as the status quo of church hierarchy and titles of the pastoral ministry, are challenged by those who wish to maintain intellectual honesty and integrity and to promote freedom and equality for everyone.
Maybe the missing or neglected ingredients of the gospel are love, peace, freedom, justice and equality. These are qualities that any person can relate to, regardless of whether they are theists or atheists, young or old, male or female, gay or straight, rich or poor, liberal or conservative, african or european or asian or american or middle eastern. Maybe in the one-dimensional pursuit of certainty and prosperity in Christian circles, many of us have forgotten what it means to be a human living in an uncertain but interconnected world, where we are bound together by our sufferings and brokenness, which can only be overcome through embracing our humanity individually and collectively, and where we are interdependent on one another.