You may have said the phrase this week… maybe even today. It pops up all over social media with a surprising vigor and spreads into TV shows, beauty pageants, and news outlets. This Christian stalwart (though shared even by non-Christians) has a way of sliding into the conversation whenever something great happens to us.
The phrase? I’m blessed.
When blogger and former missionary Scott Dannemiller caught himself using the words recently, he decided that it was time to jettison them. Here’s why:
“I’ve noticed a trend among Christians, myself included, and it troubles me. Our rote response to material windfalls is to call ourselves blessed. Like the ‘amen’ at the end of a prayer.
“ ‘This new car is such a blessing.’
“ ‘Finally closed on the house. Feeling blessed.’
“ ‘Just got back from a mission trip. Realizing how blessed we are here in this country.’
“On the surface, the phrase seems harmless. Faithful even. Why wouldn’t I want to give God the glory for everything I have? Isn’t that the right thing to do?
Dannemiller thinks the problem with this phrase is that we’ve lost sight of what a true blessing is. For American Christians in particular, “I’m blessed” comes across as simply a matter of material gain:
“First, when I say that my material fortune is the result of God’s blessing, it reduces The Almighty to some sort of sky-bound, wish-granting fairy who spends his days randomly bestowing cars and cash upon his followers. I can’t help but draw parallels to how I handed out M&M’s to my own kids when they followed my directions and chose to poop in the toilet rather than in their pants. Sure, God wants us to continually seek His will, and it’s for our own good. But positive reinforcement?…
“Second, and more importantly, calling myself blessed because of material good fortune is just plain wrong. For starters, it can be offensive to the hundreds of millions of Christians in the world who live on less than $10 per day. You read that right. Hundreds of millions who receive a single-digit dollar ‘blessing’ per day.”
In other words, when we tie “blessing” to prosperity, we belittle those in other parts of the world who can’t afford the basic necessities. Does that mean they’re “not blessed” because they don’t have cars and houses like we do?
But not so fast, says another Christian blogger on the site Chasing Crazy. Let’s hold off on getting rid of the phrase. For this writer, “being blessed” isn’t about what we have or some claim to deserving prosperity. It’s about what Jesus did for us:
“Recently there has been a big kerfuffle over Christians saying “I am blessed”. [sic] Many are vowing to stop saying it. I will never stop proclaiming that I AM blessed….
“I understand how some people could be confused by the saying. I understand some may feel that my condition of being blessed highlights their perceived lack of blessing, but that is simply a wrong conclusion. I will not refuse to acknowledge Christ in my life because others misunderstand what that looks like. You see, the blessed life is available to everyone because ‘God so loved the world the He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16) Again, this is not a prosperity gospel I’m preaching. This is a saved by grace gospel.”
John UpChurch is the senior editor of BibleStudyTools.com and Jesus.org.