I recoil almost every time I walk into someone’s home and eye a big ole “BLESSED” painted on a slab of wood hanging on the wall. Or whenever someone walks past me in the grocery store wearing a t-shirt that declares “Blessed.”
I am sure the people who wear those shirts or hang those signs simply mean that they are “grateful.”
But for those of us to whom words matter, “Blessed” carries the connotations that the same word “Favored” does. There is an inherent message – subliminal if you will – that you did something that earned you that favor or that blessing.
Kanye West recently claimed God “blessed” him with a $68 million tax return because he is living in service to God now. (My own curse words deleted here).
He says that God let him “suffer” so that he could better relate to the people in his congregation – an invitation only group. What Kanye West is running is a private club for those seeking “blessings” (wealth). Have you ever noticed how people are attracted more to the wealthy than to the poor?
“God is using me to show off,” West said. “This year I looked up and got $68 million returned to me on my tax returns. God is just showing off. He’s showing out. I get to work for God and He shows out.”
I have been writing about the Prosperity Gospel for over a decade now. It is a terrible theology that is the bastard child of Capitalism. Briefly, rich people can’t maintain their riches without a willing working class they can exploit. They have to get the masses to buy into their products, their way of thinking, their scheme. And there is no better way to reach masses of people than through the churches. So part of Calvinism and most every other form of religion is this notion of convincing the masses that God demands a “strong work ethic.”
Back when we were primarily an agrarian culture, we had to have a strong work ethic in order to eat. We didn’t need preachers telling us to work hard. We understood that plowing dry ground was hard work, as was picking cotton. Keep in mind that many a preacher told slaves that it is their lot in life to be enslaved.
Basically, we still have that mentality being preached from pulpits and “inspirational” pulpits and Oval Offices all across America. Hell, it’s even embedded in the “American Dream” which, if we are honest, is more of a nightmare for most people.
In reality, Socialism is far more the message of Christ than Capitalism, but you won’t hear Paula White, T.D. Jakes, or Yeezy preach that message. Convincing you to buy into their messaging is the only way they can continue to be “Blessed”.
But it’s not God blessing them.
It’s a system of corruption.
A system of exploitation.
A pyramid scheme that rewards those slick enough to convince the hurting to funnel their monies upwards towards them in order to get the little bit that trickles down.
The reason Kanye got $68 million back in taxes didn’t have a damn thing to do with God. It has to do with corruption. A system that ensures the rich get richer off the backs of the hard-working middle class and the poor souls working 3 jobs in order to live at poverty levels.
Kanye got millions back in taxes because millions more working class people paid higher taxes. While Kanye gets richer, Baptists in the Bible Belt and Lutherans in the Mid-West are losing farms that have been in their families for generations. While Kanye gets richer, moms with breast cancer in Wisconsin and veterans with diabetes in Pennsylvania are dying from lack of healthcare or insulin.
Perhaps we should start marketing “Cursed” shirts or slab boards to everyone who is burdened with co-pays on medical bills? Or the people in Flint, Michigan, still in need of clean water? Or to the 24-year-old with $45,000 in school loans to pay back?
Some of the most grateful people I’ve ever met in my life lived on the streets in Raleigh, North Carolina. Homeless people who were grateful for every single thing ever offered to them.
The homeless understood grace in a way that people like Kanye West and Paula White and T.D. Jakes never will.
Going around bragging about your riches, claiming you have been “blessed” because you are faithful to God is akin to picking up a pile of fresh feces and smearing it in the faces of every man or woman or child who has done without.
This is not the Jesus way. Not at all. Don’t be fooled. Please, people, be grateful. Be grateful for every single thing in your life, but for God’s sake, quit perpetuating the lie that you are “Blessed”. The theology within such a statement is that you did what was expected of you so God “blessed” you. Thus those who aren’t as “Blessed” must not be following God as faithfully as you.
It’s a hurtful message to the already hurting.
The real message of Christ is to share one another’s burdens. To sit silently with those who don’t have what you have. To give them our coats off our backs, the shoes off our feet. To do everything we are capable of doing to help them. Not because we will be rewarded for that, but because the message of God is simply, “Love one another in deed and in truth, and not in word alone” .
Kanye claims he is helping amplify and build God’s brand. Bulldookey. God doesn’t need any help from Kanye in getting his message across.
Creator’s might is found in the mountains. His grace runs in the rivers, the oceans. His provision is in the silver salmon and the golden grain. His blessing is in the rain, and the sunshine that follows. His goodness? It’s all around us, and, whether we live it or not, is always within us.
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” II Tim 3: 1-5.