Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Blessed

Today I was reading and I came across the word to bless or blessings. A word that is so fundamental to the Christian faith and used in a plethora of different “spiritual” situations. I went through many years of theological training and I cannot remember as conversation, lecture, or message that explained the theology of blessings or about what it means when people are blessed by God. I went through my personal library and only found a couple of references and these were more about how God felt about his creation and it was blessed because creation was a reflection of him.

There are several common uses of different variations of the word blessed in the scriptures. It was a salutation along the lines of shalom. It also is used to describe the idea of being fortunate or happy; this is how Jesus used it in the beatitudes.  It is also found as a verb where someone is giving praise about something.  Finally, it is often used as a descriptor of something that is bestowing benefits.
How does to be blessed work? Is it something that you ask for and beg God for? Is it a word you use to describe how lucky you are that something good happened in your life?  Perhaps it is better used as a state being, “I am blessed.”

However, it works as a Christian who is committed to being a fully devoted follower of him, I want to effectively communicate this idea of blessing. From what I have read, I am powerless to do anything, or work hard enough to obtain it. I am blessed not because God has provided for me materially, relationally, or socially. I am blessed because I am child of God. 

Perhaps the most important thing I can do as a blessed child of God comes from Genesis 12:2. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (ESV) I don't believe that blessings are for me to brag about how much God loves me.  I am not blessed because I am a minister. I am not blessed because I give to the church, and I am certainly not blessed because I have enough faith.  It's not about material things or some sort of social position as the blessed one. I am blessed so I can bless others. I am blessed because God chooses to reflect his love off me so people can see Christ through who I am. Christians are blessed by God to see his Kingdom on Earth more clearly.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dead or Alive

Death finds its perfect contrast in life. Much like dark and light, black and white, or north and south, they are diametrically opposites. These two identifiers are given as qualifiers of a Christ centered life or Christ-less centered life. There is no shortage of issues in the world today or at any point since the fall of man that can distract Christians from attempting to live a Christ centered life. If you are reading this, you are part of those who qualify as alive, at least physically, and are struggling with living in the tension between living for Christ despite the problems that are all around us or allowing those issues to make us ineffective at fulfilling our God given role during our existence. 

The simple fact is that without Christ we are dead (Eph 2:1) but with Christ we have eternal life (John 3:36). The struggle for true believers is not one of eternal security, but one of Kingdom effectiveness. A qualifier of spiritual maturity is the management of the continual difficulties associated with being alive in such a way that it does not keep you from effectively assisting with the advancing of His kingdom.
We need to be alive in Christ! That is living for every opportunity that He leads us to and not weighed down by the things in this world that can distract us. If all you can see in your life is your problems, the only thing you are living for is the engagement of that problem.  If all you are living for is problems, you cannot advance the kingdom and are essentially dead. Problems need to be managed and a true mark of spiritual maturity is perception management.  This is the process for looking at problems the way that God does and understanding that to truly be alive in Christ I must be willing to not allow the problems of this world to make me ineffective. I must be willing to live in such a way that my problems don't define me but rather my identity in Christ does. Only then will I truly be alive!