In the Western church, we assume that wealth, health, happiness, and good relationships are all signs of God’s favor. This is sometimes true… but not always. The so-called prosperity gospel is often cloaked behind the sermons of well-meaning pastors in churches all around the world. To summarize their message: as long as you follow biblical principals then you will experience health & wealth in all areas of your life! God DESIRES you to have PROSPERITY… that’s how you become #blessed.
By this standard, neither Jesus nor any of the Apostles were obeying God.
This so-called gospel is a gross distortion of the truth and has been slowly poisoning the rest of the world. It is garbage exported from the United States and other Western countries. It’s Christianity without a cross – salvation without suffering.
Before you use #blessed in your next social media post as a way of bragging about your accomplishments, let’s see what the blessed life truly is according to Jesus.
In the most famous sermon every preached – the Sermon on the Mount – Jesus opens up by pronouncing as #blessed the following kinds of people (see Matthew 5):
1. Those who are poor in spirit.
This describes all of those who don’t believe in themselves. Those who have realized self-esteem is simply narcissism cloaked in pop-psychology. True life begins at the end of yourself.
2. Those who mourn.
We are uncomfortable with pain. Jesus declares that those experiencing tremendous pain are #blessed. In many of our churches, we would view Jesus as a heretic. We have allowed the American Dream to distort the Gospel.
3. Those who are meek.
In both the business world & church world, it’s those who enlarge their ego and expand their platform that get ahead. Contrasted with this, Jesus calls the meek – those who live with self-forgetfulness – as #blessed.
4. Those who hunger & thirst for righteousness.
Many pulpits in the U.S. are filled with pastors who cater their messages to the self-interests of those in the congregation. We do not need “Five Steps to a Better Marriage” – We need to know the sufficiency of Christ in all things. It’s those who seek God for God that are #blessed; not those who seek God for a better marriage, bigger bank account, or greater influence. If you come to God for anything other than God, that is idolatry.
5. Those who are merciful.
Our natural tendency is to seek revenge. We have a wicked desire to get even when evil is done to us. Those who are blessed by God offer mercy to those who least deserve it – they reflect God’s character. While we were yet sinners… enemies of God… objects of wrath… Christ died for us.
6. Those who are pure in heart.
#Blessed are those who love others for other’s sake. As Christians, we are commanded to put the interests of other people before ourselves – this is impossible without the empowerment of the Spirit. Is your heart pure before God? Or is it mixed with dangerous contamination from this world?
7. Those who are peacemakers.
Many of us often seek division & discord. We gossip about the leaders in our churches; make controversial Facebook posts for the purpose of getting a reaction; and argue about secondary issues in the Christian faith. Are you making peace or sowing discord?
8. Those who are persecuted, insulted, and spoken falsely about.
If you follow Jesus, you will be persecuted. If everyone speaks well of you it is because you are ashamed of the Gospel. To some people this message of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the aroma of life. For others, this message is the rotten stench of death.
Jesus lived the life you couldn’t live; died the death YOU deserve to die; and rose victoriously from the dead. He offers forgiveness & eternal life to all who come to him by faith. True blessing is not found in earthly prosperity, healthy bodies, or positive thinking. It is only found through the death & resurrection of the King of kings.