Theology of hope and blessing are an interesting thing. Always having hope is important. It is essential to the Christian life. Looking toward the future with expectation in Christ’s return is important. Looking forward to the day of our redemption is vital to Christian health. Knowing where we are going is important to any journey.
When we read the beatitudes. We recognize that most of the blessings that come about are because of attitudes towards life that are not normal to the natural man. We have to re-frame our perspective about life according to the very real world changes that come about because of the Gospel. When we look at them closely we recognize that many of the resulting blessing are in a sense kingdom come blessings. As such they will find there ultimate fulfillment in the actual kingdom of God. It is about looking to the future. It has less to do about present and immediate tactile increase.
Blessed are the meek, blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the peacemakers etc. The blessings are inheriting the earth, possessing the kingdom, seeing God. All of these have there fulfillment when Jesus returns. There may be temporary comfort and mercy but the unending guarantee of them is when we are in heaven and the new earth. Jesus is calling for a change in behavior now for the promise of what is to come. The even better thing is that with the Spirit we get to experience some of this relief now but the truest fulfillment is yet to come.
But watch Christian television for any length of time and you get the feeling that God is always around the next corner waiting to shower you with blessings and prizes. Wow the Christian life is exciting! Now I don’t doubt that God blesses his people in this way but this seems to lack balance and perspective.
I don’t say this because I believe he doesn’t bless but often this message is that it is just around the next corner. God has something amazing! God has the fix you have been looking for! The solution is coming, always coming. It sounds very infomercial.
So is my problem with buying or is there some issue with UPS, a strike perhaps?
My real question in this is how do we get perspective on the lack of arriving? Do we continually swallow this line that it is still on its way? I know that it is true that the destination is always still a ways off while we are still in transit. But don’t we at some point check the route again?
This is a hard question, but I want to wrestle with hard questions. Does even asking the question undermine my faith? Would this be easier to shut up, get in line and hold my hands open for the inevitable filling all the while feeling something is wrong? What do I do when it doesn’t feel inevitable?
Worse yet what do we tell people in ministry when they experience this dissonance? The easy answer is have more faith, but this doesn’t help. Is it perhaps some of us are just poor waiters? Perhaps, but might a continual message of carrot chasing need tweeking?
See I want blessings as much as the next person. I don’t think rose colored glasses are the answer though. We are taught to pray “if it be thy will” this needs to be applied to that blessing that we want. If the message we are hearing is continual blessing around what seems to be endless corners then maybe we need to consider that crucial phrase “if it be thy will”.
That way if checking around each corner only reveals another boulevard to be traversed it will not bring more undo stress. Jesus has another leg on this journey huh? Well get back up on the wagon and let’s continue on. Perhaps at some juncture we will realize we have learned to navigate the map better and learned to actually listen to the GPS. God’s, Path, of Salvation, ha!
See I believe faith is more about believing the promises of God and not so much about receiving the next item of blessing. It is hard enough to keep myself in the love of God without worrying about whether my check is coming in the mail. Worrying about the check is a real enough issue but faith is about calling us to settled truth that we are loved and accepted in the beloved. It is about moving forward with a renewed sense of urgency because I have new sense of place in the world. I am loved and cared for and forgiven and my blessed of eternity with him gives me what I need to negotiate today. This truth helps me wait for the check without calling into question his character and provision when the mail seems to get lost.
I am a Christian for the relationship with God not for the personal benefits that may come to me. This is a truth that I have to remind myself. I don’t want to get so caught up with petition that I forget adoration. The relationship absolutely brings about personal benefits but I want to seek his face. When it becomes about the carrots then I become a dissatisfied bunny.
There are so many advantages and benefits to being a follower of Christ that I never want to grow discontent because I feel short changed on some temporal blessing. I want to focus on Jesus forgiving nature that positions me for a relationship that I do not deserve. When we focus on this it gives such freedom to the Christian life that I cannot stop to mourn a loss of discontentment. Along with this truth we get to inherit eternal life and live in the presence of the maker of all things.
I get to befriend God.
No carrots are worth losing my center which interrupts enjoying the lover of my soul in the now. This is preparing for the coming storms that come and having that solid foundation in Christ. This is why Jesus taught us to look to the blessing that come with eternity because that is where the real fun begins. This is not pie in the sky and self denial this is recognizing the true joy of our salvation. This way God is free to bless and withhold as he sees fit in order to develop our hearts for him.
This is how we can say “The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away blessed be his name.”
This way God is able to say “yes” and “no” if needs be. He gets to be God and I get to be a faithful member of his kingdom, a loving member of his family, and a happy bunny with carrot rations.