Today, I am addressing the school of thought that says "things go better with Jesus," like the old Coca cola commercial used to claim about the product it sold. Is this in fact the case?
I can categorically state that it does NOT. In fact, I searched the scriptures for quotes from Jesus that I could use to demonstrate the concept of a better life by believing Jesus. My search took me through 16 different English translations of the Bible, and I found ZERO quotes from the Lord telling us that our lives would improve if we followed Him. In fact, what I found was quite the opposite - there were many passages where Jesus said that we would suffer for following Him. That the world would hate us. That we would have to give up all that we had. That our own families would disown us. That they would kill us for following Him. Most thinking people would say that our lives were in fact demonstrably worse off for following Him.
The original Apostles and Paul would certainly agree. The only one that we know of of the whole group that (as far as we know) died of old age was John. All the rest died as martyrs rather than betray Him. None of them became wealthy, some of them had health problems (Paul certainly had poor eyesight, and who knows what else because of all the beatings he took), and all of them died horrible deaths except John - and we don't really know what happened to him ultimately.
The book of Hebrews records for us in Chapter 11 the heroes of the Faith, but in the last little bit of the chapter, it talks about how not all of these people were prosperous, healthy, or had good ends. In fact, scripture tells us that some were sawn in two (now that's not a pleasant thought), some wandered about destitute (that means BROKE in the sense of BANKRUPT so don't tell me that God wants us all to be rich, we just need to believe enough), and some wandered the earth with no home, living in caves or even in holes in the ground! That isn't a great picture for any of us, especially if we have children.
I once heard a very popular preacher tell a crowd that numbered in the tens of thousands that if they were true Christians, God had pronounced on their lives what Scripture called a "commanded blessing." Again, I searched my 16 English translations (it's pretty easy, they're computerized), and found ONE reference. Guess what? It had nothing to do with getting rich or living in perfect health, or not having stress. The passage was contained in Psalm 133 in the New American Standard Bible - where it tells us that God commanded the blessing on believers living together in unity. You mean like the apostles are known to have practiced? Those same apostles that died horrible deaths willingly? Somehow, I get the impression that the Word is talking about something else rather than just the worldly prosperity of individual believers. In fact, the passage tells us the commanded blessing - "life forever." (Hebrew: chayyim ad olam)
Jesus did not ever promise His followers an easy time. He promised an end result that would be worth it. God promised the end result if we would be faithful on the way there. How is it then that so many of us believe that there will be no obstacles to overcome? If that's the case, then why does Jesus Himself make promises to the "overcomers" in Revelation 2 and 3?
Stop telling people lies like God wants to heal them and make they prosperous - or at least define the terms properly. God does want us to be healed - spiritually from the sin that besets us. God wants to make us prosperous - for His kingdom and His purposes. That might mean wealth, certainly - but only to those He sees can handle it - and for the rest of us, He will make us productive servants of His harvest as we are faithful to Him and do what he says, not as we "name it and claim it" as too many suggest. That position is simply NOT Biblical, and was NEVER a teaching of Jesus.
Instead, tell them about the relationship they can have with the Living God, and how He loves us and wants to transform us into the glorious image of His Son. You know, the Jesus that died on the cross to pay the price for our sins. That guy. The one who rose from the dead to show that not only had the price been paid but that sin's power over our lives is broken and that we can now choose to love and serve Him. Material wealth and even bodily health has nothing to do with it. Love him anyways.