I don't have many friends on Facebook, or in my Instagram feed that i'm not acutely aware of just how incredible their life is. As a culture we have become masters at show casing our "blessings". Just search #blessed or #soblessed or any other hashtag-blessed-word-combination and you will have your daily scrolling quota cut out for you. An irrational number of the accompanying images are of children in an abnormal state of amiability. You don't find any of a baby whose just covered him or herself in feces from their diaper (yes, people without children-it happens)with a blessed hashtag, nor do you see snapshots of a toddler laying on the floor in the middle of the frozen food aisle because you refused them the screaming request to run the grocery cart into the old lady in front of you (who by the way, is now sending you glares of utmost contempt for this little person you call child-pull it together for crying out loud!). No, there are no such pictures with a blessed hashtag. As a society when we think of blessed we evoke up something out of a Norman Rockwall painting, or a page out of Martha Stewart magazine, or just straight up indulgence. A new car (better and nicer than your old one, duh), a fancy dinner, children holding hands, a sunset, a flower, a cup of coffee...these we refer to as being blessed. But are such wonderful and splendid things actually what being blessed is, what blessedness is all about?!?
In Matthew 5:3-11, Jesus gives us a picture of those He considers blessed, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the Sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake."
My old pastor at Reality once summarized "blessed" as this, "Blessedness is a wonderful state of well being in the presence of God." But such a definition and description of what being blessed is and looks like flies against the culturally established rule of thumb for blessedness. We live in a "Health and Wealth" christian culture which gives birth to and feeds this idea that if I have the stuff I want, the life I want then God is pleased with me and thus I am blessed. Or, if I don't have the stuff I want, the life I want, then I must not be blessed or else God would give it to me. Such a mind set is guilty of two things (at the bare minimum), 1.) Thinking you can earn stuff from God, 2.) Thinking being blessed is based on temporary and/or tangible glorification/manifestation. This sort of perspective not only substitutes grace for religion, but it idolizes that which is temporary over that which is eternal. It makes being a recipient paramount, as also does it alter the true purpose of the believer.
In John 6:26-29 Christ calls such people out. We are not to work at receiving in Christ that which isn't eternal - while yes He did provide for the crowd by miraculously feeding them when they were hungry-it is not meant to be something we toil in Him for. Back in the book of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 25-34, Christ explains to us why, and the reasons are because not only is it pointless and He is trustworthy, but that, such mis-directed attention takes away from that which is really important, and that is the kingdom of God. The significance of our priority being Jesus making all things new again-healing the sick, giving hope to those in despair, comfort to those in mourning, life whereas there once was death; not confusing the purpose or added objective of a believer as merely a receiver of stuff and happiness- is absolutely necessary in understanding what being blessed is all about and how that changes our very definition and understanding of it. This understanding of blessedness it not to negate the over the top provision and goodness our lives are filled with, for example, beautiful children, loving spouses, great jobs, new cars, good food, amazing coffee, etc... but to re-align this term with how Jesus described it.
(paraphrased) Blessed is one who is aware of his/her spiritual poverty, one who experiences the sorrow of repentance, one who is humble, one who longs for righteousness, one who seeks mercy instead of self-guided justice, one who wants Christ more than anything else, one who would speak truth in love for the sake of reconciling another to Christ, one who is loyal to what God deems important no matter the fall out, one who is hated and has a pretty awful time of it because they carry the name 'Christ follower'.
No matter our circumstances, one way or another, if you can read the above paragraph and find it rings true than according to Jesus you are blessed. If, on the other hand, you read the above paragraph and it doesn't sound like you but you've always assumed you were blessed by the goodness in your life than the good news for you is that today is your lucky day to experience that wonderful state of well being in the presence of God. However, you can not earn it and you can not will it; such a thing is achieved only through reconciliation with Jesus Christ. First, acknowledge your need for a savior-that your not able to save yourself and the debt you owe is more than you'll ever be able to pay, ask for forgiveness for ever thinking you could do it without Him-and trying to, testify that Jesus is the son of God and His Word is true, receive the free gift of salvation-His grace is sufficient, His atonement perfect, and in Him you are flawless, spotless, loved, set free, and #blessed.
All Glory to Him, M.