I looked at his high end sports car as it zoomed into the parking lot. He was always sharply dressed. His house, though not a mansion, was far more than what I had growing up. He had a manicured lawn complete with special sod for the putting green in the back which had it’s own separate, special lawn mower for the small 25 by 12 foot parcel of putting grass. He was a strong member of the church that he was a member of, which consequently, was directly across the street from his business which is where I was standing, ready for him to open the doors so I could start work. When asked, or a comment was made about his house, car, business (in general, his affluence), he would simply say “Praise the Lord, I’m just blessed.”And so used to be my thought of “blessing” and “being blessed.”
Used to be. Not anymore.
I’ve learned that I cannot truly sing the song, “Blessed Be Your Name” if I am not willing to accept that God does both give and take. And, I cannot read the beatitudes if I am not willing to believe that their is “blessing” in both the giving and the taking of God. This relates to what I wrote about last time. We’re screwed up in our thinking. I’m not sure if it’s just an American church thought, or it is all of Western Christianity. I’m not upset that the man in the story above had a sports car, nice house and manicured lawn. He gave me my first job out of college as I stayed in our college town waiting to marry Iris. I think that it was good for him and his life. God gives us all the freedom to chose, and he is enjoying some of the things of this world. He gave generously to the church and to me as I was going into ministry. But to call that blessing, is to then say that because I don’t have those things, I am not also blessed. To believe that only those who are wealthy or well off are more blessed than I, is to say that God has some sort of grading system wherein He has certain children he really loves and others he just, well, loves. But God never speaks of favoritism when it comes to His children.
Looking at the Old Testament, or the part of our scripture that is pre-Christ, God would bestow massive wealth on those who were righteous. That is, they followed all customs, laws and rituals God ordained and they reserved the title and authority “Lord of all” to God.
But And, when Christ came, he brought a more refined sense, a deeper understanding, a fuller perspective on what blessing was. It had nothing to do with wealth. That was a time that those who believed in God were under the law. In fact, it seems that wealth actually got in the way (see Ananias and Sapphira trying to hide their wealth and the early church selling all they had to name just two examples). Blessing from God post-Christ, seems to be all about relationship. So, why do we so often say we no longer live under the law, but still do in practice? Because we’re human and feel we have to earn something, achieve status, work on our own…towards a goal.
Looking at the beatitudes in Matthew 5, it lists several kinds of people-the meek, those who mourn, those who seek righteousness, etc. And with every single one of them, their blessing is about relationship-inherit the kingdom of God, seeing God, they shall be called children of God, the reward will be in heaven-it is all about having a relationship with and being in the presence of God. That is blessed.
Freedom from the law is realizing that we are already saved; we are already given grace; the relationship is their, waiting. We simply need to release the idea that if we work harder we will become more blessed, and give in to the Truth that God is blessing us with relationship (and I’m learning that simple does not equal easy). This is a daily, perhaps a moment by moment struggle for me. But when I do give in, I am reminded again and again of how valued, loved, cherished, and blessed I am. Perhaps today you need to give into this Truth as well.
be blessed today