One of the classic Christian go-to phrases is the ever-popular “I’m blessed”. I guess it is used to make sure that we squeeze God into the equation whenever someone asks us how we are doing. I’m not “good”, I’m blessed! It’s a way of insinuating that God had something to do with our good fortune, without having to come right out and say it.
Ok, I think we’ve all said this one at some point or another, I know that I’m guilty. But, if you examine the definition of blessed, it becomes clear that the way most Christians use this word doesn’t make sense. Let’s have a closer look:
Background: I assume that we have adopted this way of speaking from the sermon on the mount, where Jesus says that various groups of people are blessed. The poor, the grieving, the merciful, and the peacemakers are just a few of the people that Jesus called “blessed”, shocking his audience in the process.
The Truth: The definition of blessed is made holy, consecrated. So, what Jesus was saying makes sense in context. By God’s help we are made holy through the challenges we face. The poor and merciful have a powerful place in God’s plan to change the world. They are under no illusion that they can somehow change the world on their own. They are more likely to welcome God into their lives. They are less likely to be arrogant or legalistic. The brokenhearted are more likely to love others who are broken.
The Twist: When most Christians say, “I’m blessed”, they are not making a claim about their growth or spiritual development. They aren’t saying, “these really difficult things that I’m going through are teaching me to trust God more”. They are implying that they know that God is good, because life is good. While sometimes God can be close to us while we prosper, our prosperity is not a sign of God’s presence, nor is its absence a sign of his displeasure.
The Way Forward: While it’s good to be thankful for the good things in our lives, we must be careful not to equate God with fortunate, prosperous lives. God works in both the rich and the poor. To hint that our good fortune is a sign of God’s presence in our lives makes could lead those less fortunate to doubt God’s love for them. God’s love knows no bounds. He loves all races, backgrounds, and income levels. Conveying that weighty truth requires more than a simple phrase, it takes a life of relating to and caring for all of our neighbors. As we commit to the hard work of loving everyone, especially those difficult to love, we may very well find ourselves blessed.