Rector's Blog: You Are Here to Bless
This month in our Thursday morning Bible study we’ve begun the story of Abraham. His story is found in Genesis, and it begins with God saying, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
This challenge, this promise, this invitation, is the beginning of Israel: It’s the genesis of the greatest love story in all of human history – that of the relationship between God and God’s people. And the story begins with the promise of blessing.
In Genesis, blessing is a practical benefit – something effectual, something visible, something obviously and powerfully good happening in the life of the recipient of blessing. Put in the plainest of terms, blessing is the evidence of a positive relationship – the benefits that visibly point to the connection between two people or parties. Blessing is the thing you can point to and say, “See? This thing we’ve got is good.” So, when God promises to bless Abraham, God is the offering Abraham a lasting and positive love relationship – and God is saying that that relationship will bear fruit, will be noticeable, will make a practical difference in Abraham’s life.
But notice something else: God’s promise of blessing is fundamentally inclusive and expansive. God’s blessing here is not something for Abraham simply to obtain or safeguard: Rather, God makes it clear that through this blessing others are meant to be blessed, through Abraham’s blessedness, in fact, the whole world will know blessing. God’s blessing is not given to Abraham so that Abraham can realize he’s special: no, God’s blessing is given to Abraham so that Abraham will be equipped to participate in God’s blessing of all people.
We're tempted to think that God’s blessing means others will look at Abraham and say, “wow, I wish I could have a relationship with God like that, I wish God would bless me like that” – like some spiritual envy is in order. But this is not the intention of God’s blessing. No, the idea is that when we see God working in Abraham’s life, we are given eyes to see more fully how God is working in our own lives. And when Abraham partners with God to bless those around him, they are nourished with the abundant love of God. This blessing in turn equips them to bless and love others more fully, more authentically, more effectually.
From that foundational relationship with Abraham, God’s blessing moves outward, covering the land, saturating our souls, and inviting us to be blessed so that we may be a blessing – to experience the benefit of real love relationship with God, so that we might be of benefit and service to the people we meet and to the world around us.
Of course, we want God to bless us. Of course, we want to experience the blessing – which is to say the grace and mercy of the One God. We want to know the benefit and favor of the God who is Love. But if we think Blessing is something for us to possess rather than something for us to share, we do not understand Blessing, and we do not know God. The purpose of receiving God’s blessing is that we are then equipped to bless others. We are not simply recipients of blessing: We are participants in blessing, working alongside God in the practical life of manifesting grace and mercy in the world God is making.
You were made by God for relationships of love. It’s why you’re here. You are blessed in order that you might bless, in order that you might be a blessing. And this isn’t idealistic talk, or flowery sentiment: It’s a challenge and a promise and an invitation right now to step outside yourself in real ways and nurture your relationships by serving those whom you love in ways that make a difference. You are here to bless
Where and how is the Holy Spirit leading you into blessing others with your presence, your love, your resources? How is blessing others a part of your daily life? If it’s not, how could it be, and what would your life look like if it was defined by being blessed and being a blessing? If God’s promise of presence and favor is true for you – and I believe it is – God is present and kind and beneficial toward you in order that you might be present and kind and beneficial towards others. Who can you bless? And who can you partner with in the work of blessing?
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