June 20, 2021
“If you are healthy, wealthy, and wise, you are blessed!” “I am a favored child of God, just look how God has blessed me!”
These statements are common remarks made by adherents to the prosperity gospel; the implications being if you AREN’T blessed in these ways, obviously God doesn’t like you so much.
Apparently, blessings are ‘all about me and my happiness’ as the ‘blessed’ intend to live life to the fullest for myself rather than in a God-centered lifestyle which bless others.
Such misuse of scripture and the consequent self-centered theology drives me nuts!
Because it is a human-devised theology of the entitled which obscures the true theology of God’s intention for blessing.
Don’t agree? Well, consider right from ‘the beginning’ in Genesis:
No matter your thoughts on the creation story, the overarching theology remains: God created humans, pronounced them good and placed them in a garden of blessed and unfettered relationship with God and the rest of the creation.
With the blessing of goodness comes the responsibility of doing good: caring for God’s creation; nurturing it and living in loving relationship with it.
Unfortunately, the humans squandered the blessing.
Not content to be blessed BY God for the good of creation, they longed to manufacture their own state of blessedness and BE as God for the good of themselves. And we all know how THAT worked out……
Next consider Abraham.
God called Abram out of Haran into an unknown future of blessing.
God told Abram that the Holy One would bless him by making his descendants more numerous than the grains of sand on the beach, more numerous than the stars in the sky. What an amazing blessing to an old couple who had, up to that point, no biological offspring!
But the blessing was long in showing up, so the couple tried to help God along manufacturing their own blessing: plan B – a favored servant, Eliezar, Genesis 15:2 would be the inheritor; plan C – Ishmael, son of Sarai’s maidservant, Hagar, would be the heir. Genesis 16:1-2 For God, only plan A – a biological child, Isaac – was intended. Genesis 17:19
Abram now became Abraham – father of many! So blessed!
But again, with blessing comes responsibility.
Abraham was blessed not for himself alone but so that, through him and his descendants, all the world would be blessed.
I believe the responsibility of the blessing was that they would live in faithful obedience to God Romans 4:3 as an example to the world and that, through their righteous example, others would come to faithfully believe in and obey the God of their fathers.
Yeah, but not so much!
The entire Hebrew Bible relates instances in which God’s blessing was squandered; self-interest took priority to the detriment not only of humankind, but of creation itself.
Still, God continued to faithfully bless humankind throughout history with the holy intention that those particularly blessed would live into the responsibilities of the blessings offered.
The individuals who sought to rightly live into the blessing were more often than not persecuted (the prophets).
Those who felt entitled to the blessings they received were typically self-centered failures in the annals of history. Check it out for yourself! You might want to begin with King Saul, King Solomon, and even King David. Just a thought…..
Blessing isn’t about entitlement – it’s about responsibility!
+ + +
If prosperity were the sign of God’s blessing, then…..steel yourself…..Jesus would be the least favored of any who have ever walked the earth!
At both Jesus’ baptism and the transfiguration, God calls Jesus the Beloved Son, in Whom God is well pleased. Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22 Blessed indeed!
Yet, consider: Jesus was homeless, poor, persecuted, kicked out of His faith community (they actually tried to push Him off a cliff after one worship service Luke 4:29. Insinuations were made about His paternity.(see the exchange at John 8:31-41). He was called crazy Mark 3:20-21, His identity was even challenged by His siblings John 7:1-5. He was betrayed by His friends, and crucified as the worst of criminals while the crowds mocked Him.
Does this sound like a ‘blessed’ life to you – a prosperous life – in the eyes of the world?Yet, Jesus is God’s beloved Son – blessed beyond measure.
Jesus modeled the blessed life by living into the responsibility of blessing.
Jesus came to share God’s love and goodness with all the world.
Jesus came to offer God’s forgiveness and new beginnings to all of us; these blessings are not withheld based on merit or offered just to a few.
Christ didn’t choose to pursue His own prosperity, live into divine entitlement, or manufacture a blessing He could live into until a ripe old age.
Entitlement living is not an eternal lifestyle!
Our Lord lived into the responsibility of being the blessed and beloved Son of God.
+ + +
We may be ‘blessed’ by the standards of the world. We may attribute our blessings to God’s goodness; indeed, we should give God the glory! Yet, our blessings are to flow through us into the lives of others, so that all might be blessed and know the goodness of God.
What’s more, those individuals God blesses through us are intended to become conduits of God’s blessing themselves! And on and on it goes, until all the world experiences God’s blessings.
None are truly blessed until all are blessed!
This is not naïve thinking, this is the intention of God!
And in God’s grace, the Lord has given us the blueprint for how these blessings are to flow:
- Feed the hungry, if you are blessed with food to share
- Clothe the naked, if you have the means to do so.
- Visit those in prison and offer relational connection and hope for life beyond the walls.
- Heal the sick and tend to their needs.
- Embrace the marginalized and forgotten, the struggling and the defeated: see them – hear them – love them as Christ sees, hears and loves you!
- Mourn with those who mourn – rejoice with those who rejoice; if we are ‘all in this together’ that includes times of joy and sorrow.
We are blessed to be a blessing!
The prosperity gospel isn’t God’s gospel.
God’s gospel of blessing is the blessing of God flowing in all and through all of of us – into the world – no exceptions; all through the goodness of God, to the glory of God!
To whom much is given, much is expected! This is the responsibility of blessing
So how are you sharing your blessed life?
And to God be the glory! AMEN!