While the basic gospel message was the same then, I now believe my motivation and understanding of what the gospel can do or not do has changed. The Jesus I was saved under now that I look back, is very similar to the "prosperity gospel" Jesus we see so much today. What makes it interesting, is the preaching I was saved under was a good old fundamentalist Baptist, so no prosperity preaching at all.
What I have come to realize though, is if we truly examine ourselves and what we expect as Christians, we may find a lot of prosperity beliefs hidden deep down within us. For example, the belief that all things will go good in my marriage, family, job, finances (not even talking being rich), friendships, church relationships, and so on. So a far cry from an extreme prosperity belief, but nevertheless, if one holds to all of the above, they may be in for a rude awakening as life takes its toll.
For me, my wife losing a decent job due to injury and us not knowing what we could or could not do at the time. I think now in hindsight, we were taken advantage of by a disability lawyer on the companies payroll. Then, came some poor financial investment decisions being young and naive. That was followed by a diagnosis of a thyroid disorder at around the age of 30, followed by us leaving a church due to doctrinal issues around the same time, followed by my continued health issues. There is much more, it gets worse....but I think you get the point. To be honest, my faith was rocked, but should it have been? What I realize now and have for some time, is I was counting on everything going okay (by okay, not believing we couldn't have hardships, just shocked at the magnitude) as long as I served the Lord. To have so much happen and in so short of a time, it truly tested what I believed. Its still difficult today as I suffer from multiple health issues that have effected my relationships in and out of the church. That makes it worse, as the fall out continues rather than completely going away.
So my friend in the Lord I was telling you about is currently going through his own testing and its a nightmare. I won't go into details, but lets just say serious marriage issues, health issues (some of which is serious), church issues, and work issues. All of this happening in the span of about 3 years.
Obviously, things could always get worse and many Christians are going through such trials, but when things are happening to you, they seem pretty bad-especially when they are piled on one thing after the other.
In the end, my friend and I and any Christian shocked by the reality of life must make a decision as to which Jesus we believe in. The one where everything goes great or the biblical one that teaches us He is there no matter what we are going through and that the bible if read correctly, doesn't paint a rosy picture of Christian life in this world, but instead teaches us to focus on the world to come.
Our modern world with all of its riches and technological advances has lured us into putting to much energy and hope in this life. Trying to get a happy fulfilled life now. Sure, we can argue we gave up the world, but did we really? Maybe we just gave up parts of it, but only because we thought it would be a better life for us if we did. Of course its always been that way, with sinful natures from the beginning after the fall, but the better things get for people, the more we naturally fall in love with this life and are distracted from reality.
Life is not fair and no where in scripture do we get the idea that it is. As mentioned above, deceit happens when we are rich in this world. Most of modern society doesn't have to worry about food, clothing, shelter...compared to even a 150 years ago, we're so advanced and pampered, it can truly take our eyes off of what is important.
I know there are some resilient Christians reading this who have been through much worse who have maintained without pause or question their faith. Good for you, but for all of you who haven't and you've struggled, you are not alone. In then end, we must ask ourselves what is important. We must go back to our roots and the basics of the gospel and ask ourselves what is life about. In other words, preach the gospel back to ourselves and trust in God no matter what or give up hope and be even more miserable than we think we are now. Not going to lie, I struggle. My friend is struggling now even worse, but by God's grace and mercy, I pray God will keep the light of Jesus in our hearts and our wills steadfast for the true prize even if this life hasn't turned out the way we had hoped it would be.