There’s a local pastor in Texas that runs one of the largest mega churches in America. Famous for writing a book called The Blessed Life, he’s attracted tens of thousands of attendees in his congregation. I’ve spoken to a number of the attendees, and every single one of them has referenced this book, as well as their pursuit of its message.
What does it mean to be blessed? I think that’s a topic worth discussing.
“Some people are so poor, all they have is money.”
I think one of the first things that comes to mind when people think about being ‘blessed’ is the element of financial prosperity. It’s very rare that I find people talking about their blessing in life in terms like this:
”God blessed me with so many red lights this week, that I felt my patience really improved. Praise God!”
“God blessed me by taking away one of my clients, which really helped me learn to rely more fully on God for my daily bread.”
There’s only one person on the planet I know who defaults to viewing blessings through this unconditional perspective; seeing the pleasant blessings as equally as the unpleasant, and thanking God equally for both. That person is my Mom, and I’ve had 36 years to observe the way that she has lived her life.
My Mom isn’t a saint. She’s a regular human being, Mother of 6, school teacher and she has operated with an unconditional mindset ever since I can remember. She fervently loves God, has touched the lives of tens of thousands of people, and loves each and every one of her children. Even as a Mom to six kids, she doesn’t have a favorite, with the exception of me. Yes, that’s a joke.
I consider her a blessed woman because her source of joy, satisfaction and love in life comes from things that cannot be bought, replaced, corroded (with the exception of a flute) or stolen from her heart.
Where does she get this mindset from? Her love for Jesus.
Would you say that Jesus had a blessed life? I’d say that He had the most blessed life, because of this single fact:
Despite being betrayed by his closest friends, beaten, whipped 39 times with a Roman Scourge and then crucified – he forgave the people who harmed him.
I’d like you to take a good look at this whip. A ‘scourge’ was a specific type of whip that was used as one of the most severe punishments a person could be given. It was common for pieces of metal, glass and bone to be embedded into the whip.
Somebody would take this whip and give it a full swing onto the whipee’s back, which would embed the sharp objects into the persons skin. Then, the whip-er would pull the whip down the back, in order to tear the flesh, muscle and tendons out of the victims back.
40 lashes/strikes with this whip was a death sentence, because that was the number at which a person would usually die. I think this should give new meaning to the phrase:
”By His stripes, we are healed.”
Jesus was given 39 lashes. He was then forced to carry his own heavy wooden cross up to the hill where he was then crucified (executed).
In spite of all of this, one of the very last things he said before uttering “It is finished’ was:
”Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”
I want you to think about this. I want you to think about this really, really hard.
When was the last time that somebody slighted you, cut you off in traffic, or harmed you – and what was your response? Was it “Father, Forgive them…they know not what they do?” Or were you interested in getting revenge to settle the score?
I am the first one to admit that I am guilty of the latter, far more than the former.
Was Jesus blessed? I think so. I think that in order for a human being to have the mind-set to utter the words “Father, forgive them…they know not what they do” even after all of the atrocities committed against Him, that He was the first and only example of a human being that could even say this.
Christianity has deviated from this sort of thinking, as have most major religions.
How did Gandhi ‘prove’ his holiness? By sleeping naked in a bed full of young naked women.
Good one, little man. I’m not impressed.
No, Jesus set the stage for how all of us ought to live. And I say that with complete conviction that if His mind set were the aspirational goal for those in churches, rather than chasing dreams of being ‘blessed’ financially, the world might be a different place.
This morning, I went to get breakfast and quickly realized I bought too many breakfast burritos. So, I drove around the neighborhood and eventually found a man to offer one of the burritos to. He was a homeless man, who had slept on the steps of the local church, and was just beginning to pack his belongings in a bike trailer.
That man looked at me with the kindest look in his eyes and reached out a filthy hand to shake mine. We gripped hands and I looked into his eyes and saw a sense of peace, love and joy that I couldn’t explain even if I had 10,000 blogs to try.
That man is blessed. Truly blessed.
I may have given him food, but that man imparted some of his joy, energy and love into me when we shook our hands. We both seemed to say to the other: “I love you, and this is how I am showing it; by giving you what I have.”
I drove less than 100 yards back to my house, and I stopped to think about what it was that I was feeling.
Blessed. Too blessed to even think about washing my hands before I ate my burritos.
I didn’t feel blessed because I found a check in the mail, have a McMansion or a lot of money in my bank account. I felt blessed because I had the opportunity to help somebody, and the humility to realize that it wasn’t me doing the serving, but God showing me that between me and the homeless man, I was the poor one between the two of us.
“If Jesus taught like a megachurch pastor, he wouldn’t have been crucified. If Megachurch pastors lived and taught like Jesus – they wouldn’t have much of an audience.”
Many people will gravitate towards teaching that centers around financial prosperity, abundance, etc. But this wasn’t the sort of abundance that Christ had. In fact, Jesus was a lot more like a homeless man than a mega church pastor, and yet his impact changed the world for all of eternity, because He set the standard of what it truly means to be blessed:
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.