Chinese New Year is on the 5th February and I remember asking my parents about a ‘funny’ tradition Chinese people do. During this time of year, many Chinese people will hang the Chinese character: ‘Blessing’ upside-down on their doors.
The character for ‘blessing’ is:
When you have the word ‘blessing’ upside down, it is a pun that says: ‘to have blessing come’. When an upside-down ‘blessing’ is stuck on a door, it is inviting ‘blessing’ to come into the house.
Blessings are welcomed. But the Bible’s teachings about what it means to be blessed is different from what our culture thinks. A simple search of ‘#blessed’ on Instagram gives us some insight into how we view ‘being blessed’ means. Often it is pictures of bikini bodies and ripped abs.
The Bible shows us a different picture. Psalm chapter 1 talks about “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked… but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who mediates on his law day and night” (verses 1 to 2). The psalmists point us to a life that is centred on God – following the Torah, which is God’s law.
By centering our lives on God, the psalmist tells us that, “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers” (Psalm chapter 1, verse 3). The blessed life stems from a deep relationship with God which, from him, we draw an unending supply of life, joy and contentment.
This picture of being ‘planted by streams of water’ points to Genesis when God created a perfect world where “streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground” (Genesis chapter 2, verse 6) and “all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Genesis chapter 2, verse 9). Nothing was lacking in the Garden of Eden and God provided everything that humans and animals needed.
When sin came into the world, this picture of perfect blessing changed. We no longer trusted in God to be our source of blessing and we try to find blessings from elsewhere. Psalm chapter 1 reminds us that we are truly blessed when we are in a relationship with God and this is made possible again through Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins.
Jesus talked about being living water. He said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John chapter 7, verses 37-38). Jesus is right because he is God and it’s only through God that we can find true, everlasting happiness.
In the final book of the Bible, Revelation chapter 22 shows us a vision of the new heaven and earth which all followers of Jesus will be able to enjoy. In this chapter, the writer, John, describes “the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life…” (verses 1-2). This description is alluding back to the Garden of Eden where once upon a time humanity and all of God’s creation enjoyed the blessings of a sin-free world.
What does it mean to be truly blessed? It means that our lives are centred on God and we draw eternal life, love, peace, hope and joy from him.
Interestingly, the Chinese character ‘blessing’ tells us the same. 福 is made up of two parts. The first: “礻” means ‘God’ whilst the other part means ‘a plot of land’, which also means ‘wealth’. The word ‘blessing’ will never be called ‘blessing’ if God is not in the picture. Even if you have all the land and wealth in the world, you will never be truly blessed unless God is in your life.
Rachel is a pastor, preacher and writer. Based in Sydney, she’s a fan of literature, sport and the arts. Check out her website rachellhli.wordpress.com