Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What is God's Blessing?

I believe China is far more ‘blessed’ than the United States. The true blessing from God is not material gain but rather to know Him. Riches are not a blessing but what actually lead men to deny God (Prov. 30:8-9). The true and greatest spiritual blessing of all is to belong to God (Eph. 1:3-5). China is clearly blessed because thousands of people are being added to the Church each day. Moreover, the Christians are blessed there, not because of peace and prosperity, but because of persecution for Jesus’ sake, which according to Jesus is a tremendous blessing: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.” (Matt. 5:11)

Where are the true blessings the Bible speaks of? They are much less evident in America than they are in China, Nepal and places like that where God is granted people the blessing of both believing in Christ and suffering for His sake (Phil. 1:29). Where in America is God’s blessing found as shown to us in Hebrews 11:36-38? “Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy." This represents God’s blessing a thousand times more than a fat bank account. Passion for Christ is often replaced in America by new cars, bigger houses and retirement plans. Riches cause men to forget God. Biblically, much of the supposed ‘blessings’ seen in America (i.e. prosperity and lack of persecution) resembles God’s curse more than His blessing. And no wonder. We kill 4000 babies everyday and increase our riches in the process, and through Hollywood, we are impacting the entire world like no other nation on earth by exporting our lasciviousness, godlessness and greed. America did start out as a nation under God with our Puritan forefathers, but those days are long past. Who could deny that today it is one of the most godless nations on earth? Yes. Thanks to God’s mercy, He is still bringing people into His kingdom, but America has long become a harlot, not the place of God’s blessing.


Bogi said...

Hi brother,

Methinks perhaps there might be a slight flaw in your thinking. Maybe.

Consider what Matthew is saying, "Blessed are you when (tribulations) come." We are blessed by God not BY the tribulations, but IN THE MIDST of them. Big difference.

True, it is hard to know what God's blessing is at those times, but He shows Himself faithful, or more real, or something which amounts to blessing.

But to say that God afflicts people as His manner of blessing is, in my opinion, an error.

Nobody counts Job blessed by his sufferings. He is counted blessed by the presence of God in those sufferings, and the resulting prosperity which followed.

Don't let the abuses of prosperity cloud your thinking. Which is what it sounds like may have happened. Understandable given your presence in both cultures.

Be blessed my friend, and by that I mean, "may God be present in your life while you experience good things."

Litl-Luther said...

Thanks Bogi,
I think I may have been too zealous on this point (which is often my problem). Persecution can sometimes be a curse as well, not always a blessing.

My main point is that God’s blessing is best defined by people coming to know Him and belong to Him, not by material gain (which is often the false standard raised for why America is blessed). For example: Who is more blessed Donald Trump or the poor widow who after she left God’s house didn’t have a penny to her name (Mark 12:41-44)? Clearly the widow has God’s blessing on her life.

However, you must also remember Jesus words on the blessing of being persecuted for His sake:

"Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets."

He is clearly saying we are blessed because these terrible things are happening to us. It never says "leap for joy" God has blessed you with a bonus as work. It says "leap for joy" God has blessed you with suffering for Christ sake. So I blieve my point still holds true, at some level.

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments, my friend.

Bogi said...

Hi brother,

I think that we can rejoice in hardships endured for Christ's sake in the same manner in which the disciples were told to celebrate when they returned having cast out demons.
"Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20
The key point, as you have noted, being fellowship with Christ. In that, we are totally agreed.

I think it fair, though, to argue that God's blessings can come in multiple forms. Suffering, as you pointed out, and Prosperity. Consider Christ's words also from the Sermon on the Mount:

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Matt 7:11

This is, I think, the more traditional concept of blessing, and even though Americans have developed an unhealthy addiction to blessing themselves, I think it is still the legitimate first definition, if you will, of what it means to be 'blessed'.

That said, I believe strongly that there are blessings in suffering, both punitive and serendipitous. In the sense that: If I suffer because God is punishing me, it means I am a child and He loves me enough to correct me. (Maybe punish isn't the best word, chasten might be better, but who uses that now-a-days). If suffering is seredipitous, I mean that it is unexpected and unlooked for, but God-ordained. Is someone agonizing over the loss of a loved-one? Is my emotional agony without cause, or am I sharing someone else's pain, and by that, sharing in the suffering of Christ? I call that blessed.

Or as you have pointed out, am I suffering abuses for the sake of the gospel. Then, yeah, there too, I am blessed.

Just know, that when I salute you and say, 'be blessed', it is the Goodness of God that I am wishing your way. How He chooses to bless is, of course, entirely up to Him. I just kinda expect that you will enjoy it. So...

Be blessed my friend.

Litl-Luther said...

Hey Mark (Bogi),
I think I agree with on everything you said--I really do--except that the first legitimate definition of being blessed has to do with "things". That may be true in America, but it is not biblically true. I don't see how it possibly could be biblically true because before any "things" existed, God elected us. And Ephesians 1:3-5 clearly says that the greatest spiritual blessing is that God has predestined us to adoption as His sons. So if we are going to talk about the "first legitimate" blessing, then I don't see how it could be anything other than our election.

This leads to another point. Christians should not shy away from the study of predestination. For if God tells us something is our greatest spiritual blessing, doesn’t that sound like something you would want to learn about? Then we should learn about His predestination. We are pushing “the greatest spiritual blessing” out of our minds when we have nothing to do with the doctrine of predestination….I know this isn’t what you were talking about, but you gave me another opportunity to stand on my soapbox. :-)

Blessings to you my friend!

Bogi said...

Hi brother,

Sorry, I will continue:

I think you should be more careful in your objections. I used the term 'things' because it is the text I quoted. To object to it on the basis of it being not Biblical is silly, since it is quoted directly from the King James text.

Nor do I attach a non-biblical meaning to it, as may be inferred from your comments. Even though the context of the passage compares it to 'gifts' and material gifts, I would argue that 'things' would include non-material gifts, things that go beyond what we are able to give.

To me, things would also include stuff like: peace, comfort, confidence, courage. It might include emotional healing for you or someone you love. I don't know. All I know is that "But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Hebrews 11:6 and of course as you point out so well, the great blessing of our election.

How God chooses to reward is beyond me. I just know He does. Hopefully, this isn't too argumentative.

My point however, is not that getting 'things' is the primary or first definition of blessing, but that blessing is thought of in terms of 'good' things rather than 'bad' things. That while we may be blessed when others revile us, it is not the 'bad' condition of being reviled and abused that is the blessing, but something else.

That something is called a blessing, and it is ours in spite of the fact that we are suffering 'bad' things. Get my point?

What might that blessing be? It may be that we are sharing in Christ's suffering, or that we are drawn closer to him during that suffering. I don't know. All I'm saying is that when someone punches you in the face for telling them the gospel, the punch in the face is not the blessing.

I'll let you talk now. :-)

Litl-Luther said...

You make a good case bogi!

Anonymous said...

Thus a farmer who never reaps anything from the land because of adversities, be it thieves or hail or draught or you name it should deem himself blessed? Pull the other one. You religiosniks can't see the forrest for the trees, nor the issues of daily life for your theological commentaries.

Litl-Luther said...

Hi Anonymous,
Your comment about farming betrays your lack of understanding of what I wrote in this post.