The true meaning of blessings
Being blessed within the realm of Christian faith is an important concept for all who live to serve and love Jesus Christ. It is common and appropriate to claim the blessings that come from one’s relationship with Jesus Christ. However, it is also all-too-frequent for Christians to unwittingly trivialize blessings by an irresponsible application of the word.
When many think of biblical blessings, it is easy to focus on the famous opening lines of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount remembered by many as The Beatitudes. Many English transitions render the ancient Greek to say, “Blessed are …” Other English translations render the text to say “Happy are those who …” Both “blessed” and “happy” are part of the appropriate understanding of the ancient Greek, but the problem comes when one looks deeper into the actual depth and meaning of the ancient word.
Many people use the terms “blessing” and “happiness” to mean very short term, fanciful, and emotional experiences rather than the deep and far-reaching implications of the word. For example, we frequently speak of being “blessed” because we have a job and can pay our bills, “blessed” because we have healed from an illness, or “blessed” because we live in the United States of America. We even proudly, and appropriately at times, love to sing “God Bless America” and prayerfully seek God’s blessing upon the nation.
Yet, the problem with these so-called “blessings” is that the mentality short-changes the power of the word and negates the meaning of the Beatitudes completely. When Jesus was preaching his Sermon on the Mount and opening the lesson with the Beatitudes, he was speaking to a people who were largely classified as outside the traditional realm of blessing. They were oppressed, exploited, abused, and cast out. They lived under the lie imposed upon them that they had peace because Rome’s domineering power and military control supposedly suppressed rebellion and subsequent violence. Jesus spoke these words to those who were outside of traditional understandings of blessing. He spoke these words to a people who longed for the world to be turned to their favor.
Looking into the words of Paul from Philippians, the Apostle calls upon the church to literally take on the mind of Christ and be emptied of self so that one may be filled with the fullness of Christ. In the prophetic book of Micah, the prophet calls out for one to manifest faith in God by loving kindness, seeking justice, and humbly walking with God in all things. The Beatitudes from Mathew’s Gospel proclaim the centrality of surrender, service, and sacrifice on behalf of those for whom “blessings” or “happiness” is important.
The ancient Greek word translated “blessed” or “happy” means so much more than modern English translations imply. It means to be in favor with, of one mind with, and in tune with the will of God. Blessing is not about getting good things or experiencing happiness. It is about aligning oneself with the Great Liberator—Jesus Christ! It is not about just being grateful for things in our own lives and nations that we like, but actively, prayerfully, and faithfully working as servants of God to make real that blessing for all in the world—especially those to whom the Beatitudes actually speak—that is the poor in spirit, those in mourning, the meek, those starving for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those pushed down in the culture or deemed unworthy of God’s blessing.
This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: The true meaning of blessings