Have you ever thought of the word “blessed?” Thought about what it means, why we use and how we use it? “Blessed” describes so many things that it is bewildering at times.
Here we are on Sundays asking for God’s blessing which we can only assume to mean in that context is asking God to shower his good favour on us as we go and proclaim the Kingdom. We ask for a blessing, knowing that we cannot accomplish that which we are called to do without the one who calls us to do it. We do so with the understanding that blessing does not describe quality of life, but confirmation of a call and a desire to see God’s presence come true in our lives and in our world.
And yet as soon as we exit the hallowed doors, it changes, doesn’t it? Blessing turns into a quality of life.
I had doughnuts today: I’m blessed! The weather was nice today: we are so blessed! I just got a brand new car: God is blessing me!
And perhaps there is nothing inherently wrong with equating blessing with quality of life. After all an outlook on life that sees God as actively engaged in the everyday is not inherently wrong.
But what about those times when everything goes wrong? When the unthinkable happens and our world comes crashing down? When we are confronted by senseless suffering and pain? When everything goes wrong? Because if blessing is a consumer good: happiness in whatever form that is to be sought out and then consumed; if God is present when goods stuff happens to me, then what happens when the bad stuff hits?
Furthermore, if I am blessed for eating donuts, what happens to those who cannot afford those same donuts? If I am blessed by God through my new 60in 4K UHD TV, what are those who can only afford and old tube TV?
Here is the deal: if blessing is only measured by the stuff we consume and supposedly makes us happy then blessing is not a gift of God’s presence in our everyday life. It is not an affirmation of God’s life altering call to “pick up to cross and follow me.”
Rather is sought out confirmation by a person-less God for our own individual lifestyle choices. It is Deism and one that attempts to soothe our inner voice that reminds us that as we enjoy donuts, TV’s, cars and warm beach weather there are others who do not enjoy these in the same way. It affirms a god who does not make any claims on our lives – a heavenly vending machine – whose only job is to bless us with stuff in response to our supposed piety.
So maybe it is time for us to recover some care with the word blessed. Because our God – the I AM – is not a vending machine.
Our God stakes his claim and God’s blessing is the confirmation of that claim. It is the confirmation that indeed our lives will be cruciform and it is the confirmation that even in the bad stuff, even when things are down the drain, we are in the presence of absolute love – one that embraces, carries, cherishes us and one that asks for absolute loyalty!
We are blessed – indeed! So how will you and I follow the calling of that blessing?