Written by Dave Geldart
But Jesus blasted that way of thinking with His famous Beatitudes (check out Matthew 5)… “Blessed are the POOR, Blessed are the WEAK”……… etc…
But, (and I think this is really important), these “Beatitudes” are NOT cause-and-effect. That misses the entire point Jesus is trying to make! He is not trying to make the commonly-held ideas about blessing go backwards… as if to say that if you are poor then you will be blessed. Or if you are sad, then you will be blessed. Actually, he does away with the entire system of linking people’s circumstances with their standing before God! But, there’s a big “if” here. Jesus is leading the audience to understand that no matter your life circumstances, you are blessed if (the big “if”) you accept him, (Jesus) as your Lord. Indeed, Jesus is teaching that the sad, poor, crippled and misfits are blessed along with the rich, healthy, happy, and popular —– if they find their hope in him!
So here’s the key: Blessing does not necessarily mean changed circumstances….. Blessing from God means a redeeming relationship with him!!! And that is the Blessing!
I think those in the mainstream of the Prosperity Gospel Movement have fallen back into the old pre-Jesus, Jewish idea that God gives health, wealth and happiness to those who are in “right standing” with Him… and that the lack of those desirable states of life is evidence of God’s curse. However, it doesn’t take looking in the Bible long to see overwhelming evidence that that way of thinking is not true. The book of Hebrews says that the Hall of Fame for Faith is filled with Godly blessed people who did not receive what they were hoping for before they died! They only saw it from a distance! In fact, most of these Giants of the Faith had difficult lives – and were often neither healthy, wealthy, popular or “happy” (in the commonly misunderstood sense of the word). God does not promise us an easy, comfortable, or even “happy” life on this earth. In fact, He says the opposite will often be true! “In this world you will have troubles…”1) “Blessed are you who endure hardship because of Me…”2) Consider the entire life of Paul!!! or the rest of the Apostles for that matter! Would they be considered “Blessed” by those under the Prosperity Movement? Surely not. [internal alarms should be sounding at this point, if they haven’t been going off already] But we look forward to a NEW CITY… A NEW LIFE… A FAR BETTER KINGDOM that is still coming! We look forward to a day when Christ will make a new heaven and earth and set right all that now is fallen and doesn’t work right. Then, we will have all we could ever need or want, because God himself will live among us and give us the overflow of his riches and grace. Blessing.
So, God’s Blessing has little to do with what we have or experience. It’s all about a genuine relationship with God himself that gives us hope for what is to come – a hope which enables us to endure each day, even in the midst of a world that doesn’t work right. Those who tell us otherwise are either ignorant or deceptive. (And yet, even that does not disqualify them from being used by God for his good… what a God!!) Self-help may sell, and the idea that Christians are entitled to health and wealth may sound appealing. But it doesn’t line up with the Biblical reality of a fallen world of people who are completely unable to help themselves, and a loving God who sacrificed everything to do for them what they could not do for themselves: to lift them out of their hopeless death and into the relationship of his marvelous light!
If you are poor… you are Blessed.
If you are rich… you are Blessed.
If you are sick, sad, oppressed, lonely, or afraid… you are Blessed.
And if you are well, happy, influential, loved, and strong… you are Blessed.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:6-12)
PS: This article was originally written as a comment on an older article by Jon Acuff called “Joel Osteen and the 1 Minute Abs.” But my response was so long (possibly -winded?) that Enoch decide we should repost it as a new article and see what people think. So take a minute to post a comment and let’s talk about this…
1) John 16:33
2) Matthew 5:11
3) Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy