Updated: Feb 25
You're probably familiar with the gospel of prosperity: “God will grant good health and relief from sickness to believers who have enough faith."
Many Christians find it easy to brush aside these claims, but Todd Billings insists that we're often enthralled by a softer version of this gospel. It goes like this: "If I’m seeking to obey God and live in faith, I should expect a long life of earthly flourishing and relative comfort."
Is this really what God promises? Diagnosed with incurable cancer at age 39, Billings has ample reason to ask. Since his diagnosis, Billings has written eloquently on why Christians need to embrace the practice of lament. In The End of the Christian Life, he now turns to the benefits of keeping our mortality in view.
In this extract from the book, Billings explores how the Bible does two remarkable things at once: it cuts through our illusions about mortality and furnishes us with resurrection hope. Both are essential.
Whether or not we have sight or mobility, whether we live 5 or 40 or 90 years, our bodies belong to the Lord, and the process of outwardly wasting away can be a testimony to the humble love of our Savior. Amazingly, the Spirit enfolds bodily failings into his work in the world. As we are witnesses to Christ, the very crumbling of our bodies makes it “clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us” ([2 Corinthians 4] v. 7, NRSV). In this way, the anchor of our hope is not deliverance from the process of decay but union with the crucified and risen Christ.
Read "Good News: Tomorrow We Die" at Christianity Today and "How Death Enables Us to Live" at Credo. You can also listen to The End of the Christian Life Podcast for interviews with pastors, therapists, undertakers, and scholars on what it means to be mortal before an everlasting God.