In our digital day and age, hashtags are an everyday part of life. We use them to organize and promote our posts. For example, if you search #onegracefamily in Instagram, thousands of pictures from different users will appear, giving you a glimpse of the life of our church. But hashtags are about more than just utility; we also tag them onto the end of our posts to succinctly express a message. The last time my wife and I got a babysitter and enjoyed a meal from a restaurant without a clown spokesperson and drive thru, we posted a picture together with the hashtag #datenight. And when we took the family to the beach, of course I took a picture with my sons and added the hashtag #sunsoutgunsout.
Of all the clever hashtags employed across social media, there is one that is so ubiquitous you might not even notice it anymore: #blessed. I’m willing to guess that you probably saw this hashtag the last time you opened your social media platform of choice. Or maybe you used this hashtag yourself on your most recent post, which was a picture of your dog that you treat like a human child. The reason it’s safe to assume you’ve seen it or used it recently, is because #blessed has been used over 120 million times on Instagram! 120 million! Now it’s not as popular as #love (1.7 billion) or even #me (410 million), but it is more popular than #bestfriends (58.4 million) and #abnormalgrowth (180).
I think the reason for the popularity of #blessed is because it expresses a message everyone wants to be true of their life — they are blessed. Things are going right! Winner winner chicken dinner! Everything’s coming up roses! (Or fill in your favorite idiom for winning).
And if you search social media for #blessed, you will see 120 million images that include perfectly plated meals, girls’ selfies with perfect lighting and their heads cocked to the side for some reason, new cars, beautiful homes, cruise ships, beaches, families in front of Cinderella’s castle, Jordans, and latte art. All of those diverse images express the same message: “I am living a blessed life. This is the life you should aspire to have if you want to be as happy as I am in this picture.”
But are these posts really leading us to a #blessed life? Absolutely not.
First, it should be obvious to all of us that social media pictures don’t ever tell the whole story. We know that ALL family photos are taken under duress, the food never tastes as good as it looks, and the “effortless” selfie took 50 tries before your hair didn’t do that thing you hate.
And secondly, Jesus’ definition of blessed would never get posted on Instagram. Check out His description of a truly #blessed life from Matthew 5. He says that the following people are blessed:
- the poor in spirit
- those who mourn
- the meek
- those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
- the merciful
- the pure in heart
- the peacemakers
- those who are persecuted
- the insulted
- the slandered
Jesus has a completely different view of a blessed life than we see today. None of us pose for a picture after being insulted, nor do we try and find the filter that makes us appear most meek. Such things counter our #blessed culture.
But not only is His description of a blessed person different, the results of living a truly blessed life are different from those of a #blessed life. What’s the result of living a #blessed life? A life with the best this world can offer? A life worthy of Instagram fame?
- more money
- more “likes”
- the envy of people you will never meet
- a few Saturdays on the boat
- a floating island made of Ceasarstone
- the new AirPods that kind of fit better than the last ones
Is that really what we want most out of life? There has to be more. And Jesus reveals to us that there is more. If we live a truly blessed life, He says the results will be:
- the Kingdom of Heaven
- divine comfort
- inheriting the earth
- seeing God
- being called children of God
- eternal rewards in Heaven
Those are things worth pursuing! And so the decision before us today is this: Are we going to listen to 120 million posts and pursue a #blessed life? Or, are we going to listen to the eternal words of Jesus and pursue a truly blessed life?