I've been thinking the past day or so about what a blessing really is.

We often say that we are so blessed to be living in America, to be financially stable, for food on the table, etc. But are these really blessings? Here in America, we are so rich. We don't really have much need. Even our poor are rich by the standards of most of the world. The poverty guidelines in the U.S. state that for a family of four to officially be "in poverty," they must make $19,350/year or under. Literally billions of people throughout the world will never see that much money in their lifetime. That is insane to me. So, back to the question: is our wealth really a blessing? Most people would say a resounding "yes." We are wealthy, we are comfortable, and we have a lot to thank God for. But do blessings exist to make us comfortable? What if, and I think this is often (not always) true, our wealth and comfort keep us from God? I think our search and dependency on money is something that hinders the Kingdom of God from taking over this world. I think the individualism of our culture is something that hinders the community of God from becoming united in love and service. Are these things that we call blessings really blessing us when it comes to our spiritual lives? Jesus warned us that it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom, harder than it is to put a camel through the eye of a needle! That is an insane statement! Do we even take it seriously? If that’s true, none of us are saved, by the wealth standards of the world! Fortunately, "with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:23-26). So this is not to say that wealth and American culture are inherently evil. But I think as Christians, we need to be on our guard against these things that might make it more difficult to enter the Kingdom of God and to live for Christ. We should be aware of what our real blessings are from God. There's a quote that I heard a while back that really caught my attention. It's from this guy who is a sociology expert on Africa. He's talking about the weakness and poverty of Africa, compared to the affluence and strength of America. He says, “…suffering unites people, while affluence and riches divide people. In our time success is very fashionable. Strength is fashionable. And in order to be strong and successful you have to throw away all of your scruples. And when you do this, you become alone, because you lose all your friends. Weakness is not fashionable. Compassion is not fashionable. Yet these are the qualities that bring people together.” --Krzyszt of Kieslowski, Newsweek 1995:56 Weakness and poverty is not fashionable. But our strength and wealth tends to divide us and leave us lonely. I'm not saying we should all go out and give away everything we own, but we need to know where true value is--in Christ. All the stuff we have—it’s just stuff. And our money—it’s just money. It's not going to last. And it's not that much of a blessing to us if it keeps us from Christ. According to Jesus, true blessings come to the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who are merciful, those who are pure in heart, those who are peacemakers, and those who are persecuted because of righteousness (Matthew 5). This turns everything that we know on its head. We look at the poor in spirit, the hungry, those who mourn, and we think, “Poor them… I’m glad God has blessed me so much.” Real blessings may not be so apparent to our eyes. But may God reveal to us the real blessings that unite us with Him and with each other, and that hasten the coming of His Kingdom.

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