Redefining #Blessed

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Our society is always changing.

And perhaps this is best represented in our weird tendency to redefine things. Particularly nowadays. It seems everywhere we turn, a previously unquestioned concept is experiencing a huge social reconstruction. I’m looking at you, marriage. Not forgetting the 63 genders you can now choose from. Here’s the problem:

We all want a say on how life should be defined.

We do it in more subtle ways too. For example, the hashtag #blessed has been used 77,000,000 times (on Instagram alone). And for many (not all) it appears to be a way of boasting whilst remaining humble. Win a sporting event. Pass that hard university topic with flying colours. Get a promotion at work. Be surrounded with friends and family. Live in a huge house. Such events seem to qualify our ability to say that we are blessed.

And so our culture has formed something of a silent creed. An unspoken but very loud anthem, drummed into the hearts of many. That to be blessed is to be subject of favourable circumstance. This is the lie we have smuggled into our internal dictionary.

And there’s a reason I say this is a lie.

To be blessed has become totally synonymous with gain in this life. But Jesus came to tell us those who lose their lives for his sake are blessed.

As always, my opinion means squat.

My greatest hope is to draw attention to the works and words of Christ. And as I understand it, Jesus seriously challenged our definition of what it is to be blessed. And he didn’t do this privately. He challenged it publicly. 

To a crowd of eager and expectant people, Jesus said some shocking stuff. Jesus defined the truly blessed people in life as being poor, hungry and thirsty, and persecuted to the point of death (Matthew 5:2-12). The crowds were not expecting that. Because it sounds like the complete opposite of being blessed. So we have to ask ourselves:

What did he mean by it?

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BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT 

The world says those who are rich and esteemed are blessed, Jesus says blessed are the poor and humble before him.

This one is so counter-cultural.

Because most of us spend our lives trying to be rich. Whether you realise it or not. We strive to be rich in money. Many of us aim for richness in achievements. Most of us long to be rich in our friendships. Rich in reputation. Rich in purpose. Rich in happiness. And so for the most part, we look to life’s many riches as our primary source of joy.

Well, Jesus uses the very first words of his sermon to tackle this issue.

Jesus has little time for those who use stuff as their primary pursuit of joy. He makes it crystal clear – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:2). Incredible! Jesus is extending to us the richest richness possible. He is literally ushering us into the Kingdom of Heaven. And get a load of this:

The only requirement to God’s kingdom is empty hands.

Those who fall at the feet of Jesus totally broken. Those who fall at the feet of Jesus bankrupt. Those who fall at the feet of Jesus bereft of all pride and life’s riches, in passionate abandon of he who can satisfy every longing. It is to that calibre of people, Jesus promises to bless with everything.

Namely, himself.

BLESSED ARE THE HUNGRY AND THIRSTY

The world says those who have everything in abundance are blessed, Jesus says blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

We have so much stuff.

Food isn’t even an issue for us,  because every type of food we need is at the supermarket down the road. To hunger and thirst in the first world is pretty much a non-issue. But we aren’t let off the hook to easily. Because Jesus isn’t just talking about food and water here.

You see, when you hunger and thirst after something, it controls you. It dictates your movements. It becomes the very thrust of your life. In fact, you know you hunger and thirst for something when you cannot go one day without feeling the pain of its absence.

Because in the end, desiring the things of this world never truly satisfies.

Death puts a dramatic end to all pursuits of happiness. So the words of Jesus ring all the more louder: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). Jesus is saying we need to develop an appetite that won’t be satisfied by this world. Jesus wants the stomach of our soul to rumble.

Jesus wants our lives to be so changed, so controlled, and so dictated by a hunger and thirst for more of God. To the point where our reflex-reaction is to show people undeserved mercy, and to spill over with blood-bought purity and peacemaking. And it is to that calibre of people, Jesus promises to bless with eternal satisfaction.

Namely, more of himself.

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED

The world says those who are secure are blessed, Jesus says blessed are those who risk everything for his sake.

If the others haven’t blown you away, this one will.

Jesus says “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:10). Craziness! Nobody in their right mind considers being killed a blessing. Our image of the good life doesn’t usually include death. In fact, hundreds of surveys all come back with the same result – our greatest fear is death.

Yet, God welcomes us to be fearless in death.

How could Dietrich Bonhoeffer, after standing against the Nazi party and sentenced to the gallows, say with his last words “this is the end – and for me, the beginning of life.” How did Obadiah Holmes, arrested and whipped 30 times for holding a church service, turn around to his executioner and say “you have struck me as with roses.”

What made John Cardmaker, sentenced to death for his faith, walk up to the stake on which he was to be burned and kiss it. How did Kayla Mueller – after getting captured, tortured, sexually abused and killed (by ISIS) for defending the lives of children – say in her last letter “by God and by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall.”

Holding tight the words of Jesus, these people experienced death as gain.

This is what sets Christians apart from the world. We are blessed because through Jesus, the power of death is no more. Nothing can shake this. Not persecution, poverty, danger or death itself (Rom 8:35). And so we shout “Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55) Because death doesn’t steal our joy.

It only advances it.

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THE MARCHING ORDERS

Our ability to say we are blessed should be primarily predicated on what God is to us. Not what God gives to us.

So go on. Use the blessed hashtag.

But Christian, make sure the world hears you loud and clear. We march to a different drum. We preach a different creed. It goes like this: Jesus is the root of my ability to say I am blessed. And so we count all else as loss except for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Jesus said it in the most explicit way possible. He wants us to desire heaven infinitely more than we desire earth. More than all of life’s riches. Higher than any vain satisfaction in this life. Greater than personal security. Worthy of our whole lives. 

So let the world hear it. Our hope is not in this world. Our hope is in the resurrection of Jesus. And so we live to advocate serious joy in Christ at all costs. We might face poverty, famine, or even death. But Jesus remains the strength of our hearts and our portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26).

Life uncertain. Hope secure. Blessed always.

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73 thoughts on “Redefining #Blessed

  1. soulkandysite August 23, 2017 / 1:21 pm

    What can I say? That was excellent! Great thoughts, definitely challenged. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac August 23, 2017 / 1:24 pm

      It is no easy thing to take seriously the words of Jesus! A massive challenge for all of us! Thanks soulkandysite 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. willowwrites August 23, 2017 / 1:49 pm

    Interesting subject for me today. I was meditating on Proverbs 13:12 this morning. Will have to see how this works together. thanks for the words.

    Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Heather Davis August 23, 2017 / 2:04 pm

    Excellent as always! In a similar vein and speaking entirely of a woman’s perspective, I have given a lot of thought to what Elizabeth said to Mary when the Holy Spirit came upon her; “Blessed are you among women…” (Luke 1:41-42).

    To call a young woman “blessed” when she would have endured scathing social scorn due to her pregnancy outside of marriage (along with all the other fun things that likely came about for her and Joseph), giving birth in a stable, and eventually watching your firstborn die in agony despite His innocence – those don’t jive with the modern idea of “blessed,” either. Thoughts like this continue to challenge me in my walk with God.

    Good stuff. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jonathan Camac August 23, 2017 / 2:12 pm

      That’s an awesome point!! When you consider all those factors, the small picture of Mary’s motherhood doesn’t exactly look like a blessing. But the bigger picture always tells a greater story. Romans 8:28. Thanks heaps for sharing that Heather!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heather Davis August 23, 2017 / 2:17 pm

        It’s one God used on me, and in my turn, I bring it up to women He puts in my path. It certainly resonated with me as a mother when He pointed it out to me! Yes – Romans 8:28 for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

    • krekker August 24, 2017 / 3:51 pm

      Yes – I have pondered this too, Heather! Love your thoughts on that!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Heather Davis August 24, 2017 / 9:14 pm

        I think that line of thought sometimes comes more easily to women, especially if you’ve ever had children!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My Way Home Life August 23, 2017 / 3:22 pm

    So very true and thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My Way Home Life August 23, 2017 / 3:24 pm

    Reblogged this on My Way Home and commented:
    A thought-provoking explanation of the true meaning of being “blessed,” a much overused word in social media these days!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lisalawlor August 23, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    The beatitudes are so rich with meaning, the perfect opening to Jesus’ sermon giving instruction on Christian living. Jesus sat down – a weighty statement about to be said – the policies & principles by which His Kingdom would operate. I have committed them to memory myself, as they are so foundational. I’m flagging your blog for closer study and devotional later today, think you have unearthed some more gems for me from these passages 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac August 23, 2017 / 9:33 pm

      Yeah I can’t get enough of the beatitudes. I’ve committed them to memory too. Thanks for your time once again Lisa!!

      Like

  7. David August 23, 2017 / 8:28 pm

    Great writing Jonathan. The words of Jesus are hard often. I too have recently pondered our contemporary use of the word blessed, and tried to get hold of what Jesus was saying, which seems so contradictory. Your article has gone to the heart of that. You can see my wonderings at https://readingluke.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/blessed-2/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac August 23, 2017 / 9:35 pm

      Yeah spot on David. I’ll do my best to check out your post later on today. Appreciate it man!

      Like

  8. beingalexbee August 23, 2017 / 10:50 pm

    Thanks for your humbling posts. God really uses you to speak through and I appreciate you listening and declaring truth with clarity using scripture. You’re so wise for your age and glory to God for all He has done through you so far! Thank you for this reminder and humbling truths.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac August 23, 2017 / 11:03 pm

      Thanks Alex! Absolutely spot on! Praying this saying works it’s way out in and through our lives – that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” Appreciate your time and thoughtful comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The UnApologetic August 24, 2017 / 1:23 am

    Thanks Jonathan. Very thought provoking, and an important reminder.
    We are blessed because of who we are in Christ, this is something that does not change because of our circumstance.

    so that, as it is written, ” Let the one who boasts , boast in the Lord .”
    1 Cor 1:31

    #AlwaysBlessed

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The UnApologetic August 24, 2017 / 1:26 am

    Reblogged this on The UnApologetic and commented:
    A little gem from another blogger. Thanks Jonathan.
    “As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend.”
    Prov 27:17

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Nancy Burton Wolfe August 24, 2017 / 10:22 pm

    Yowzers! Such good words. I couldn’t have said it better or agreed more.
    I “shared” to my FB friends.
    And, btw, thanks for following me and for the “likes”. It’s a big blogosphere and you have so many choices… xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac August 25, 2017 / 5:10 am

      Glad you got something from it Nancy! Not a problem at all. Thanks for your time once again 🙂

      Like

  12. Katie Sanders August 25, 2017 / 5:08 am

    Reblogged this on Mess And Mercy and commented:
    My heart! Very beautifully written. Such a humble explanation of why people are disappointed in Christianity and Christ after they’ve hit there first “bump” in the road with Jesus by their side. Blessings in their greatest beauty doesn’t have to mean sunshine, just saved. That’s enough for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Katie Sanders August 25, 2017 / 5:09 am

    My heart! Very beautifully written. Such a humble explanation of why people are disappointed in Christianity and Christ after they’ve hit there first “bump” in the road with Jesus by their side. Blessings in their greatest beauty doesn’t have to mean sunshine, just saved. That’s enough for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. gpavants August 25, 2017 / 2:07 pm

    Hi Jonathan,

    Getting it back into perspective is great. Thanks for the reminder that applying what Jesus really meant will change everything. We are in a backwards world again, and He has the standard and the Holy Spirit for us to be counter-culture.

    Thanks,

    Gary

    On Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 5:06 AM, Jonathan Camac wrote:

    > Jonathan Camac posted: ” Our society is always changing. And perhaps this > is best represented in our weird tendency to redefine things. Particularly > nowadays. It seems everywhere we turn, a previously unquestioned concept > is experiencing a huge social reconstruction. I’m lookin” >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac August 26, 2017 / 4:12 am

      Yeah too right. We need to be reminded of the bigger picture often. Thanks Gary!

      Like

  15. E. Luminous Aghosa August 28, 2017 / 8:51 am

    Hello Jonathan, I got to know about your blog from the reblogging of this post on my friend’s blog (CROSSROMAN).

    The message shared here is strongly needed at a time like this. Personally, I had not noticed that the #blessed had become so numerously connected to “favorable earthly circumstances”. I guess because the #blessed is not as frequently used in the country of my residence as well as by those with whom I am connected most often.

    The words written here are firm and encouraging to the saints, as well as definitive to those without (we are hopeful to have more brethren in Christ).

    I hope this becomes a kick start to a fulfilling relationship. Already following your blog.

    Lots of Love to you,

    E. Luminous Aghosa.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac August 28, 2017 / 11:53 pm

      Ah awesome! Crossroman shares some good stuff. I don’t think I have stumbled across you before, but I’ll definitely give you a follow bro!

      I think you’re right. Definitely changes between cultures. Over here in Australia and I would assume America too, the idea of being blessed is strongly associated with favourable circumstances. What sets us apart as Christians is that our joy is never taken from us – because it is rooted not in the temporal, but the eternal!

      Thanks for your time E. Luminous Aghosa!

      Liked by 1 person

      • E. Luminous Aghosa August 29, 2017 / 1:02 am

        Thanks for the follow Bro., and much thanks for stressing that the source of our undying joy and passion goes beyond this earthly realm.

        We catch glimpses of this magnificent hope here on earth and we press on toward the goal, no turning back, come what may.

        This Love of Jesus so lights my fire.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac August 28, 2017 / 11:49 pm

      Thanks Jami! Trust you were encouraged and challenged in some way 🙂

      Like

      • Jami August 28, 2017 / 11:51 pm

        Yes, definitely! Thank you!! I’m new to blogging and learned a lot of tips reading yours! Thank God there are college students out there who don’t mind standing up for their Christian beliefs. God bless your journey! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jonathan Camac August 28, 2017 / 11:57 pm

        Stoked to hear it! I think in a world turning the way that it is, it will become increasingly hard not to stand up and live for faith. We all need to (not least myself) make concerted efforts in prayer and by God’s word to be unshakeable as everything else falls around us. Big challenge!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jami August 28, 2017 / 11:58 pm

        For sure! Great way to put it!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Daily Thankful September 2, 2017 / 5:39 pm

    Thank you, Jonathan, for this reminder of what it means to be blessed – biblically. This really ministered to me today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac September 3, 2017 / 1:38 am

      Glad to hear it! Definitely challenged me as I was writing it too. Bless you mate.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Daily Thankful September 5, 2017 / 3:50 am

        Have you wrapped up your studies, Jonathan?

        Like

  17. peggy September 5, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    Good stuff. A better way of defining “blessed.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac October 2, 2017 / 7:30 am

      glad to hear it tinagk! I’ll have a look at yours in a bit 🙂

      Like

  18. Hosanna October 23, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    Wow! This really spoke to me, thank you! If you’re ok with it I would love to post this on my blog so my followers can see it too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Camac October 23, 2017 / 10:48 pm

      Glad to hear it Hosanna 🙂 No problems at all! Go for it!

      Like

      • Hosanna October 24, 2017 / 12:02 am

        Thanks! I posted it! check out my blog if you get a chance, its geared toward college students and I think you might enjoy it, also I read your post to my husband and he wanted me to leave a comment for him as well:

        “I have met very few young christian MEN, these days so often young men succumb to the pressure of the world and its refreshing to read something from someone who is proud of his faith and willing to stand dressed in the armor of God as a solider in the physical world fighting for the cause in our spiritual war. You’re not alone and I was very encouraged to feel less alone myself today. God bless and keep up the good work.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jonathan Camac October 24, 2017 / 4:45 am

        Appreciate your husband’s message! So true too. We are never alone in this life and fight of faith – even if at times we feel like it. Bless you guys 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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