#blessed money prosperity
You guys know I’m not big into getting political. Promise I’ll try hard not to go all soapbox-y on you. Yet I gotta admit: I was pretty hot under the collar last week over some rumored comments regarding African nations like the beautiful one I raised my kids in. In my gratitude for this place, with its remarkable people and so much to offer the world–people who’ve changed my life–I was more than a wee bit appalled.

I admit to thinking something like, REALLY? 

And maybe some other things that were not so generous nor gracious.

(My friend Kristen Welch’s response is much more charitable. See her post Let Your Life Be Your Response:It’s easy to be furious and angry online, but it’s a lot harder to do something about it in real life….

“We have to do more than care.

“We have to do something….

“It’s one thing to take a stand for the poor, it’s another to sit down with them.”)

Though many have addressed the racism of these remarks, I was startled by the words’ blatant prejudice toward those who would economically advance my country if they immigrated here (apologies for the obscenity in attached link), and against those who would not. Someone else on social media asked why, if these countries were so great, people weren’t moving there.

Friends, let’s make a pact to never reduce people to their economic contributions to our society–or what we can get from them, period.

Let’s commit together to never judge a people group based on how attractive they make themselves, or whether or not they’re underprivileged  (particularly based on opportunities they’ve never had). Let’s never reduce our measures of success to “the economy, stupid.” Heck, let’s not reduce ourselves to being takers.

 

#Blessed?

I’ll repeat a sentiment I expressed a couple of weeks ago: Sometimes my view of God’s favor. of being “#blessed!” can be very prescriptive. In fact, sometimes it’s a thinly veiled version of the American Dream.

I brought up Mary in this post. It was exclaimed over her, “Blessed are you among women!” You are favored by God!

Maybe we wouldn’t expect this from her life.  As in, You, an unwed mother, will live in the shame of your community, and a near-divorce.

You will flee the country from your son’s intended infanticide, but your friends won’t make it out.

Your son will die of the sickest form of unjust capital punishment. But not before you’ve wondered if He’s gone off the deep end. 

Oh, and You will live in poverty, as will your son. Your nephew will also be executed unjustly, and another one of your sons will also be (as far as we know) tortured to death. 

Mary’s #blessed life was also #pierced.

Yes. God’s favor often shows up in the form of a vehicle, or a lovely home, or the shower drain being fixed so you don’t have to call the plumber (my story this past weekend. Hallelujah!). But sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes, Jesus reminds us in the story of the rich young ruler, our prosperity actually stands in the way of us and the only thing that matters.

The God of What I Want

This past year, I believe one of God’s key truths for me has been to separate my ideas of God’s favor from Him providing what I want and fulfilled dreams. (Read: Perhaps I have more in common with the speaker of those aforementioned insults than I would like to admit.) To clarify, there are forms of the “good news” both in African countries and my own that position God as the Divine Waiter, bringing whatever blessings we’ve “ordered” through faith.

A few pages over from Mary’s story, we hear more of what’s blessed: You’re blessed when you mourn. When you’re poor in spirit. When you make peace. When you’re hungry for righteousness. When you’re persecuted.

Can this describe your nation? Can it describe us? Or can we occasionally think of God as the vending machine for a happy life?

I’m reminded of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings, before he was hanged:

 

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time: death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call.

The Cost of Discipleship, p. 99

That death doesn’t mean death to desire. But it does mean death to desires-turned-demands. It means death to my idea of what life is all about. It’s possible for any one of us to gain the whole world, yet lose our souls.

I’m thinking as I type of verses like, “Watch out! Guard yourselves against every form of greed, for a man’s life”–and presumably a nation’s–“does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15)…”You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

Lord, don’t let us reduce following You to the life of our dreams.

Renew our minds with Your vision–not a religious version of our culture’s vision.

Don’t let us reduce Your gifts to prosperity. Let us honor You in both our times of plenty and of want. 

 

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