Disciplemakers: Reality Reviewed. Looking at Blessings.

 

            Much of what disciples will do at the beginning of their days is watch, listen and learn.  It isn’t the kind of learning one might get from a book or a blog, but the kind that God will show us if we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.  To that end, we can pick a topic, any topic and generally see how the modern thinker and the post-modern thinker will apprehend and perceive that topic.  Then we can readily search the scriptures and at least generally see how God sees the issue.  Sometimes it will be a little this way or a little that way of what a worldview tells us, but sometimes it will be in a way neither the modernists nor post-modernists can imagine.  It will be radically different.

            Let’s consider, for example, the idea of blessing. 

            For the modernist, blessing is a real event that deals with real (scientifically, or socio-politically verifiable) things like money, power, prestige, status.  (I will presently avoid blessings that are called miracles, like a sudden cure of a deadly disease, because they really deal with other issues)  In the normal life of a modernist, a blessing might be an unexpected promotion and raise at work (making progress), or a sudden inheritance, or finding a mate (hopefully the right mate) for life, or the like.  Even an agnostic or atheist modernist would count these as blessings, though perhaps not in exactly the same sense as a believer.  The dialogue for that new job and pay raise might go as follows:

            Agnostic:  “What a stroke of luck!”

            Believer:  “Yes.  That is a real blessing.”

            Agnostic:  “Yes it is.  So what are you going to do with the extra money?”

            Blessing is in the language of modernism, especially as related to the idea of luck.  You see, it isn’t an actual hand of God thing, but more of a nebulous, kind of “universe-smiled-upon-me” thing.  The believer and atheist are thinking along roughly the same lines.  They may be parallel lines, but they are on the same track which is the modern worldview..

            By contrast, the post-modernist would tend to disagree with the whole idea of blessing, even if they are a believer.  That dialogue might go this way:

            Post-Modernist:  “What a stroke of luck!”

            Believer:  “Some might call it a blessing.”                                                      

            Post-Modernist:  “Bull.  It was just random chance.  You just lucked out.”

            You notice, luck remains the operative word, but the meaning of the word, “luck” has changed over the centuries from the Ancient Roman view of “fate” to the Medieval view of “true blessing” (hand of God) to the modern view of blessing (as in the universe smiling) to the post-modern view of random chance, which might as easily happen to anyone, like winning the lottery.

            The thing is, God does not see blessing in any of these ways, and first of all because in God’s universe there is no such thing as luck by any definition.  That is a human word we constructed to use when we convince ourselves that something unexpectedly good happens.  But the truth is, we are not the boss to decide who deserves the promotion and raise, and you can be sure any boss has studied the issue and tried to make a decision as far removed from luck as possible.  Our expecting it or not had nothing to do with it.  As for the inheritance, that was simply in the mind of the dead Aunt or Uncle or whoever, and not knowing about it in advance does not make it lucky.  As for finding a mate, we humans are very good at convincing ourselves of all sorts of things, and sometimes (by the providential grace of God (not luck), perhaps) they actually work out, though sometimes they don’t as witnessed by the number of divorces in this world.  In God’s worldview, there is no such thing as luck.  There is, however, permission; and I say that because God permits all sorts of things that we do to ourselves and to each other.  That does not mean he blesses such things.

            God permits us to go after the raise and promotion.  He permits greed and the lust for power, but that does not mean he will bless.  God also permits fools to inherit (or win the lottery) as witnessed by the number of instantly wealthy people who just as quickly return to poverty.  Money is not a good or bad thing of itself, but it is not something with which God blesses.  The rich are not more blessed than the poor.  And as for mates, well, let me just say God is not generally concerned (though not unconcerned) with material things in that way.  Sorry, but we get to make our own decisions.

            What God does is bless.  But if not in material things, than how, with what and in what way?  Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in Matthew, chapter five.  Jesus lists blessings there, though it is by no means an exhaustive list.  But if you look with an open eye, you will see God’s blessings are these:  To be included in the Kingdom of Heaven, to be comforted in the grief of this world, to inherit the earth, to be filled with righteousness, to receive mercy, to see God, to be counted among the children of God, to receive the Kingdom of God, and to be rewarded in Heaven.  And pay close attention, because the last two, to be persecuted and have all manner of slander, hatred and evil turned against you are not at all the things any medieval, modern or post-modern thinker would ever imagine as a blessing.

            The Scriptures have a lot to say about the blessings of God.  You might look it up, because the first thing a disciple needs to do is sit and watch, listen and learn.  We are to give up our worldview, whatever it might be, and replace it with God’s worldview until we see and hear and feel and think about reality – about life, the universe and everything the way God does.           

 

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