And so it goes. You’re scrolling through Instagram, and a photo pops up of someone sitting on a beach, getting into their new car, or showing off their new “killer bod.” The hashtags are rolling in as well: “#BlessedBeyondMeasure“, “BlessedHighlyFavoured“, and “#BlessedByGod” Now, I’m not even going to bother getting into whether these hashtags are an appropriate place to put a picture of your new bikini, but they certainly shed a light on our culture of blessing.
Christians have not been immune to the #Blessed culture. Long before selfies and belfies (don’t google that at work) appeared on the scene, Christians were rushing to get on board the blessing wagon. I recall a man who was particularly proud of owning a Rolex for every day of the week. “I’m so blessed!” he trumpeted, as the crowd at the youth conference lapped it up. His “success” was held up as a benchmark for how God wanted all Christians to live.
Now, aside from the fact that the message of extreme blessing is at odds with how most of the world lives, the major problem for Christians is that the message of #Blessed is misses two key points. Firstly, the concept of blessing harks back to Abraham, and his how God chose to use him to share a message of hope with the world. It all starts with God’s promise to bless Abraham in Genesis 12:1:
“The Lord had said to Abraham, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
But we can’t just stop at Genesis 12:1, because Genesis 12:2 puts everything into perspective:
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
For Abraham, the whole point of having incredible wealth was so that he could bless others through his blessing. Abraham wasn’t #blessed so he could get a really ballin’ new Mercedes and roll up to da club; it was so he could grab a Toyota Hilux and get out there helping the Community Centre move. But helping others is not the message anymore – we’ve gone from sharing our blessings with our neighbours to “sharing” our blessing on Facebook. Somewhere in our desperate need to find fulfillment, Christians have cashed in on… well, cashing in.
So that’s my first point: We’re blessed to be a blessing. I could easily go on about the incredible frustration that I feel at seeing Christians get sucked into a vortex of narcissistic bragging, but instead, for my second point, I’m just going to leave Jesus’ words about what being #blessed means from Matthew right here:
3 “#Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 #Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 #Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 #Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 #Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 #Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 #Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 #Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The modern, shortened message of #Blessed is a safe message for Christians living in a comfortable, Western world. Jesus goes on in Matthew to say that Christians are called to be the salt of the earth. “What good is salt if it loses its flavour?” He asks – and his warning is clear: salt without its flavour is useless, and will be cast aside.
Why would we shirk back from the real blessings that Christ calls us to in favour of temporary, fading ones? I’m not saying I’m any better than the next person in this area, all I’m saying is that next time we’re hashtagging #blessed, we should think about what happens next.