Give us today our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)
God is interested in meeting our material needs. Jesus talked about this a number of times. He told us to have faith in God not only for spiritual things like the forgiveness of our sins, but also for material things like food, shelter, clothing, and health. He went about, not only declaring spiritual freedom through faith in him, but also demonstrating God's interest and power when it comes to our material needs as he multiplied food, obtained money from a fish's mouth, and even more prominently, brought health to multitudes as he healed the sick.
He associated God's material provision to our faith. "O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them" (Matthew 6:30-32). If we worry about material things today, many of our preachers would comfort and encourage us, and tell us how they understand that life is difficult. They take this approach because most preachers are out of touch with the doctrine and attitude of Christ, and in fact disagree with him. And they also oppose those who teach the same thing he did.
Jesus would rebuke us. While the lack of faith is the last accusation that some preachers level against worry for material things, Jesus repeatedly came back to it. To worry about material things indicate a lack of faith. He said the pagans run after these things, so we should not be worrying about them. His point was not that we should not have material things, but that "your heavenly Father knows that you need them."
Then he said, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (v. 33). This does not mean that we should think only about the kingdom, because when he taught the disciples how to pray, although he mentioned the kingdom first, he went on to say, "Give us today our daily bread." He was defining the proper priority. Seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness, but then have faith for material things and ask God for them. As Paul wrote, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). God will meet all our needs, not according to what we need, but according to what he has in Christ Jesus.
Many Christians are zealous in opposing the so-called "health and wealth gospel" or the "word of faith" movement. It is true that some serious errors and heresies are taught by these "faith teachers." They are far from ideal models, and many of their doctrines and practices are excommunicable transgressions. However, as much as some Christians hate Jesus for it, and as much as they fight and distort the Scripture, the gospel indeed includes health and wealth in a sense, and the gospel indeed relates the receiving of material blessings to faith. Jesus said, "According to your faith be it done to you" (Matthew 9:29, ESV), and "You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it" (Matthew 21:22, NLT).
The Bible's message is simply not one of sickness and poverty. It insists that we should exercise patience when we suffer these things, but it does not glorify these things, and it does not condemn health and wealth. Just as the faith teachers often ignore and distort the biblical verses and doctrines that do not suit their purpose, their critics refuse to take seriously those texts that these faith teachers draw attention to. The critics cannot make good sense of these texts because they have rejected what they teach from the start. Both sides are selective about what they admit into their idea of the Christian faith and lifestyle.
Thus although many of the objections against the faith teachers are well-deserved, the critics are also using them as a scapegoat to disguise their own unbelief and their resentment against the faith teachings of Jesus. The Lord often sounded exactly like the faith teachers, only even more literal and extreme, and these critics despise him because of it. The Bible's teachings on faith and power make them look very bad, exposing their unbelief, tradition, and numerous spiritual deficiencies. Instead of repentance, they harden their hearts and conspire to redirect people's attention to the faults and dangers of a movement that emphasizes faith, power, and our covenant provisions. As a result, all those who are carried along by this diversion become impoverished and fall into disobedience.
Does your preacher boldly declare the faith teachings of Jesus, or does he avoid them or hide them from you? When he deals with them, does he tell you that Jesus meant what he said, or does he bury you with reasons for why it might not happen for you? Preacher, if you are going to be faithful to the gospel, you will have to talk more about the power of God, not in the larger sense of how he rules his creation, but his power in how he helps us in our circumstances, how he heals our bodies and meets our needs.
There is a concern to avoid a man-centered focus in our sermons, but even this legitimate point has become an excuse in despising the teachings of Christ, who taught that "the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matthew 10:30). He was not worried that this statement was too man-centered, because when we relate all things to God, even our daily bread becomes a revelation and a confirmation from him about his love, his power, and his care. When a preacher thinks that it is too man-centered to talk much about healing, our daily bread, and so forth, it shows that he is already too man-centered, since Jesus could talk about these things and make them draw attention to his Father.
The truth is that it is such a preacher who becomes man-centered when he talks about God's blessings of health and wealth, and how these relate to faith, so that he must either avoid the teaching or attack it. Perhaps he has no idea how to think about the matter at all. He does not grasp it. He cannot process it. And he resents Jesus for having taught it, because of all the characters in Scripture, the Lord was the one who most strongly and frequently stressed this aspect of the faith, and in the most explicit and extreme manner. The preacher does not want someone like this as his Lord.
The hypocritical opposition and self-righteous neglect of this aspect of the Christian faith has contributed to the turning of the world and the church to truly man-centered solutions, where self-help gurus convince people that they could achieve their goals and satisfy their needs, not by faith in God, but by realizing their human potential. Thus the Christian crusade against Jesus' teachings on faith and power, including what he said about health and wealth, has done little other than to drive the world and the church away from faith in God and right into the arms of Satan. And then they think God owes them for dealing with the heretics.