This morning in Sunday School he questions us, a room of Jesus followers…. rich spoiled American believers. We drove in our heated cars with heated seats in the middle of the morning to worship in a fully heated, brightly lit House of Worship. We loudly sang out praises, some raising polished and manicured hands to Jesus in adoration. Some of us pick the lint off our wool trousers during prayer while others of us calculate how long ago we wore this outfit and does anyone realize it was a mere month ago?
I squint at him as he probes us with his questions. “How you define blessed?” and I remember how the Word tells us He causes it to rain and the sun to shine on both the just and the unjust. Not satisfied with the look of apathy in our eyes made mildly sleepy from chocolate donuts and hot coffee, he presses further. He reads the story of the full day hired hands who screamed about injustice at being paid the same as the workers who worked an hour. And just like that a parable from The Master reveals our greedy hearts that are quick to count and compare. And this in turns reveals the same attitudes in the rich young ruler….and in me.
“Blessed” takes on a stagnant putrid odor when it is tagged only to prosperity. And Jesus seems especially loving when we drive a new car, but somehow far off when we hear “your cancer is back”. We are blessed when there is extra for the beach vacation. We contemplate the fairness when we are the ones who struggle when less faithful have bigger bank accounts.
And the truth of the Word cuts deep to reveal our own struggle in defining “blessed” here in our wall to wall carpeted, two car garage lifestyle. I close my eyes as the teacher teaches on and I see a Kenyan mama place her baby, just barely a week old in my arms and ask us to pray a blessing over her. She does not desire private school and dance lessons for this wee one. She wants her to make it to adulthood without being sexually abused and enough to eat. And as we pray the mama cries and claps and declares that Yes! her baby is blessed! I ask Christine, my Kenyan friend how these poverty stricken believers have so much joy that it radiates in their faces and tears fall in worship as they shout praises to the King of Kings. They will sleep on the dirt floors. She tells me, ” These brothers and sisters have nothing. They know that Jesus is everything. What waits for them in heaven is their reality. They consider themselves to so very blessed to be loved by such a Father.”
And I look up as the teacher finishes. He asks us to consider what makes us blessed. And suddenly I realize that the $20 in my wallet is probably not so much a blessing as it is tool to share God’s love and the gospel story of a Jesus that is eager to change the lives of so many. I nod amen as he thanks Jesus for His Son. That is my dearest blessing after all, Jesus. I get Jesus in return for my sinful heart. An unfair trade. I am blessed.