What should the focus of our faith be? The teachings of Jesus give us a clear answer, if we only listen to him, and take his words seriously, as if they are coming from our God-appointed Master (which of course, they are!)
Jesus calls us to deny ourselves take up our cross and follow him. (Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23.) We are to be “other-centered,” not focused on Self.
Jesus calls us to self-denial, to serve others beyond even their demands. "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles (Matt. 5:41.)
Jesus calls on us to live a life of self-denial, not to make ourselves fat, comfortable, wealthy and detached from the cares of Others. We must, if we love Jesus, serve these Others first, and do so with a perfect self-sacrifice, as modeled by none other than Jesus himself (Matt. 20:28; John 13:15.)
And yet, with a perverse sense of self-entitlement, some make God into their own Servant, rather than making God the object of our service and love.
We are called to fully serve God and fully serve our fellow human beings. But many in Christendom - the modern bearer of the Christ's name - often find a way to make our lives, and our faith, all about serving and enriching ourselves. This perverts the Gospel Jesus taught.
If your "Church" is telling you that you are ENTITLED to material success, then your church is speaking against Jesus.
Jesus calls us to serve and lose ourselves in that service. The early disciples of Jesus left ALL - friends, family, material goods, homes, jobs - to follow Jesus (Luke 18:28.)
Jesus assures us that storing up "goods" in Heaven is far greater than storing up material goods - which rust and fall apart (Matt. 6:20.)
If your "Church" is telling you that you CANNOT be Righteous, and that Jesus did all the "work" of "being righteous" FOR YOU 2,000 years ago, then your "church" is lying, and the entire message of Jesus testifies against this horrible doctrine.
It is the one who does Righteousness, not the one who merely says they "have it", that actually is righteous (Matt. 5:20; Isaiah 33:15.) Jesus said we must stop sinning and serving the Self, that we must turn instead to God, and begin seeking (and doing) Righteousness, serving God and obeying God’s commands.
If your "Church" tells you that the cut-throat approach to business and life is the right one, and you should emulate it, RUN from that "Church" Because selfish ambition and jealousy lead to disorder and corruption (James 3:16.)
And if your "Church" lashes out at the concepts of Knowledge, Wisdom, and following the Teachings of Jesus and instead says it's okay to be selfish, this is a place isolated from God's Will (Prov. 18:1.) Again: RUN AWAY. Fast.
What does all this mean for us in our daily lives?
We're called by Jesus to love our neighbor just as we would love ourselves (Mark 12:31) to even love our enemies with just as much strength (Matt. 5:44.) This often, almost always, means putting OTHERS ahead of ourselves. Serving others often means putting our desires on hold, and serving, rather than to be served (Mark 10:45.)
Is this HARD? Yes, it can be hard to put others above yourself. But we were never promised a wide gate (Matt. 7:13) easy religion when we promised we would follow the teachings, life and example of Jesus.
James, the brother of Jesus, puts it like this: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." (James 1:27.)
Jesus is our perfect example (by his Righteous acts) of God's Will for our lives. We must seek to follow Jesus in all things, meekly and humbly seeking God and God's Kingdom first (Matt. 6:33) above our own needs and desires, and relying on God's forgiveness when we fall short, forgiving others as we expect to be forgiven by God.
So, let us turn our hearts to God's way, and not to selfish gain (Psalm 119:36)! Let's show by our Lights (Matt. 5:14) and our Deeds (James 2:18) what kind of Faith we have in God's anointed Spokesman, Jesus!