This Sunday night, I’m leading worship and preaching for an annual event that we do here called “Blessings Beneath the Bluff”. It’s a hog roast / all church picnic / fun time / celebration of God’s blessings held at the foot of the bluffs here in our area. But I have a bit of a problem… (and writing out some of these rambling thoughts is helping me find solutions)
It’s way too easy, in celebrating God’s blessings, to focus on the blessings and forget about the Blessor and His purpose for blessing. So I want to challenge the people to stop thinking of blessings as something which they collect for display. It’s not that it’s bad to receive blessings (obviously), and it’s definitely a good idea to praise God for the way He blesses our lives and our church. But, too often, we stop there. It’s an immature perspective on blessings that allows us to thank God for the sunshine and simply bask in it. I don’t want to bask.
I don’t want to enable our church to bask (which is our inherited Western tendency). So instead of talking about the various ways we’ve been blessed, I’m going to push for our people to be blessings. Throughout the OT, God talked about His people not just as ‘blessed’ – but as ‘blessings’. They themselves were blessings for others. Even as early as God’s promises to Abram, He spoke of Abraham being a blessing for others. After he gave Israel hope of restoration in Ez. 34 (and calling them blessings) God continued to reasssure them with the episode at a valley full of dead bones (Ez. 37). “Just like I did that, I’ll put my Spirit into you and you will live.” For what purpose? To be a blessing? Just maybe…
I’m going to hit on James’ take on wealth when he said that the man in “humble circumstances” has “high position” and the “rich man” should “glory in his humiliation”. It’s not what we have that is evidence of our state of “blessity” or “unblessity” (again, I know those are not words) – but a “man who perseveres under trial” is called blessed. Following through the first chapter of James, you hear him telling us to actually do what the Word says to do. Hearing Him without doing what He says is pretty much worthless.
And that is often where we get stuck. That is where many churches are more “bluff” than “blessing” (I’ll definitely be playing with those words Sunday night). I’m reminded of Casting Crowns’ “If We are the Body” Are we blessing our community? If our church disappeared, exactly how would our community be worse off? Do we settle for “membership” at the expense of “mission”?
We need to stop asking “What do I need to do to get blessed” (A close cousin of “What’s the least I can do to pass this test?”) and ask instead, “How can I bless our valley?” Primarily, by living a life that leads the way to Jesus… By loving my neighbor the way only Jesus can… By actually stopping to help that guy beaten at the side of the road… By giving a drink to that lady that looks so thirsty… By letting that kid get close enough that I might get hurt…
Incidentally, if you are looking for more ways to ‘be a blessing’ check these sites out:
Compassion (give a kid hope)
Kiva (small interest free loans for businesses in underdeveloped places)
Blood:Water Mission (clean blood and clean water projects in Africa)
The Junky Car Club (I love their slogan “Living with less, so we can give more.”)