The Cultural Misconception of Blessing

Defining Terms

When we look in our culture today, we see a very clear picture of blessing—that is, people use the word blessing a lot. We are all familiar with the hashtags around social media: #blessed, #blessedlife, and #tooblessedtobestressed. The word blessing gets thrown around a lot, so people have an idea of what they think blessing means.

To ask the question where that comes from is somewhat difficult. There are some ways that our culture has grabbed a hold of this notion of blessing so that it meets kind of a vague cultural Christianity need.

Sociologist Christian Smith talked about moralistic therapeutic deism as being a very vibrant faith in America. Blessing—vague notions of blessing—tie into moralistic therapeutic deism as well by asserting that God is somehow out there and not really engaged in our lives. He wants us to be happy. He's our therapist in the sky who is going to meet our needs.

Divine Blessing and the Fullness of Life in the Presence of God

William R. Osborne

In this addition to the Short Studies in Biblical Theology series, William Osborne traces the theme of blessing throughout the Bible, equipping readers with a fuller understanding of God’s benevolence for everyday life.

What does meeting our needs mean? It means that when good things happen, that’s God's blessing. There's not a whole lot of theological thought going into what it means to experience God's goodness. It's just the belief that there is a God out there and when we’re in trouble, he promises that he'll help us—and that he should.

Culturally, we see a very vague hat-tip to some God out there. I got a new pair of shoes. I'm blessed. I got into college. I'm blessed. I got my new car. I'm blessed. What that creates is a cultural narrative that tells us that blessing is always related to some type of material possession. That removes the spiritual and relational components of blessing for many people. It's just kind of a way to say, Okay, I want to be humble here and say God gave me this new job. It wasn't me, so I’m #blessed.

William R. Osborne is the author of Divine Blessing and the Fullness of Life in the Presence of God.

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