Blessings and Materialism, Part 1

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I have been following an online conversation the past few weeks about the use of the word “blessing.” I’ve pretty much sat out the discussion, but some of the comments really have me thinking. The current seems to go something like this: First-world Christians like to attribute the “good” things in life to being looked on with favor by God. We say thinks like…

“Just moved into our new house. So blessed.”

“Blessed to have healthy (or happy, athletic, attractive, intelligent, etc.) kids.”

Or during the Sunday evening mission trip report: “After spending a week with [insert specific disadvantaged group], I understand more than ever how blessed we are.”

I even had a friend post a picture from the family ski vacation a few weeks ago with the caption “so blessed.”

The primary objection that I am hearing to this language is what it says to those who are not blessed, at least by our definition of the word. More Christians in this world survive every day on less than my Dr. Pepper budget than live like we do. Ascribing our affluence to having found some special favor with God—being blessed—tells those AIDS orphans, that subsistence farmer, the child surviving on the streets, that their faith is not strong enough, their relationship with God not deep enough. Work a little harder at the righteousness thing, and you can live just like me.

That is a message we must not send.

We decry a prosperity gospel, but ascribing our financial status to God’s special providence for us buys right into it, and do I understand the conversation.

But there is another side to this that perhaps concerns me even more.

And we will get to that next week. . .

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