Tuesday, July 15, 2014

We are #Blessed

This past weekend, my parents made a stop on their road trip to see Justin and me.  My sister Kate, recently (~3 months) home from the Peace Corps, decided to come along for the ride.  We had dinner with Justin's parents, went to the Denver Botanic Gardens to see the Chihully exhibit, and then out to the Denver Zoo to try to see some of the Zoo Babies that were born this spring.  Sadly, they evaded us.

But here is a photo of the Chihully just to make us feel better. 

It was a joy to have my parents here.  Kate actually ended up staying a few more days, a special treat that provided time for her to spend with both Justin and me.  I repeat:  a treat.

One of the nights, I checked my phone for my Instagram account.  An acquaintance from college recently just got married, and posted a photo of their ceremony site.  #Blessed was one of the hashtags.  Oh yeah, I think.  Being married is SUCH a blessing.  

This triggered a memory from earlier in the weekend--Kate and I had been talking about how a pet peeve of ours is when Christians use the term blessed for something trivial.  Or just simply overuse it.  So, out of curiosity and a mild sense of wanting to judge strangers, I opened Pandora's box on Blessedness.  

I tell you, people.  Hilarity ensued.  Check for yourself (and sorry if you are one of the people we judged/probably are still judging.  We recognize our own pretentiousness in this as well).  We poked fun at people for about an hour.  Among the 24+ million photos tagged Blessed, most of them fall into general categories:

  • Selfies - one in particular had a comment that stated something along the lines of "Just when you think it just can't get any sexier, it does." #blessed
  • Gym Selfies - an oiled up (and fairly attractive) man in a bro tank showing off his shiny triceps. #blessed
  • A plate of protein brownies - comments explained that this particular gal went on for a long run and her sister had made her protein brownies.  #blessed.
  • Children - these included ultrasounds and actual, real - life children.
  • Flowers - I assumed they were from lovers.
  • A pair of boobs (covered, but still very buxom), with a small pit bull in the background - I kid you not.  Her "selfie" was mainly her breasts covered by a skimpy sports bra, a small pit bull kind of in the background, and maybe an inch of her chin.  #blessed.
And the one to top all other #blessed tags...

A girl posing next to a brand-new black Maserati.  I repeat, A MASERATI.  The comment to go along with the photo?  "Thanks, Mom & Dad!" #blessed.

I just can't.  (You can lease a Maserati  if you so desire.  To the tune of a normal person's mortgage or $1,399/mo).  

It appears that blessings on Insagram typically add up to being attractive, having a lover, food, babies, and receiving obnoxiously expensive gifts from parents.  These also can be summed up as #hot, #dateable, #foodie, #ihavecutebabies (duh), and #richandorspoiled.

Perhaps it's not the issue that we actually do our blessings, but rather that of what we count as our blessings. 

 I believe that indeed, God blesses us.  It is a biblical and sound belief.  Strangely, the first recording of God's blessing in the Bible is not upon a human.  Moses writes in Genesis 1:22, "God blessed them [fish of the sea and birds of the air] and said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth'."  Then, he blesses the animals of the land, followed by rest on the seventh day. It is after all this that He chooses to bless the man and woman to also be fruitful and multiply.  

Wealth can be a blessing (the examples of Solomon, Job, and Joseph come to mind).  Children are a blessing (Psalm 127).  Long life is a blessing (Deut. 5).  A good wife is a blessing (Proverbs 18).  But many times in the Scriptures, blessings come from an obedience to God's covenants and Word (Zechariah 3, Exodus 16,).  Luke 11:28 explicitly records Jesus saying, "Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it."  James writes that trials and perseverance are blessings (James 1).  

Jesus flips our concepts of blessing upside down when He preaches the first portion of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5).  Blessed are the poor in spirit.  Mourners.  The meek.  Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  The merciful.  The pure in heart.  Peacemakers.  Those who are persecuted because of righteousness.  

I don't want to be poor in spirit.  I don't want to mourn.  I can handle being meek (sometimes).  Hungering for righteousness?  Most times I honesty would rather snack on it.  You get the picture.

What ultimately counts us as blessed is that we have the Lord.  That we recognize Jesus as who He said He is, that we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We are most blessed because of these things, not because God chooses to give material blessings.  We are blessed because we know the One who Blesses.  Even if a dearly loved one dies.  If we find out we have to live with a chronic disease.  If we lose our house.  If we have to say no to the finer things in life because we choose to follow His commands and love the poor.  If we take a lower paying job to spend more time with our families. Even if we become one of the "leaset of these."  We are blessed because we love Him.

Let's not trivialize true blessings.