Week 9, Day 3: A Blessing Church
To serve should be a privilege, and it is to our shame that we tend to think of it as a burden, something to do if you are not fit for something better or higher.
- Madeleine L’Engle
LOOK & LISTEN: Deidox Films, “Amazing Teacher Shows Unconditional Love to Students”
One of my life verses is Luke 12:48b: “Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.” Or, as Eugene Peterson translates it in the Message: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Whether it is privilege, education, connections, resources, or time, I am responsible to steward what God has given me, and stewardship means not just using something wisely for my own benefit but for the benefit of others.
In Genesis 12, God declared to Abraham that he was going to make him into a great nation, that he was going to bless Abraham so that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3, NIV). Dallas Willard explains what blessing is:
Blessing is the projection of good into the life of another. It isn’t just words. It’s the actual putting forth of your will for the good of another person. It always involves God, because when you will the good of another person, you realize only God is capable of bringing that. So we naturally say, “God bless you.”
To bless others has been the calling of the people of God since the very beginning; it was the calling of humanity since creation — to use all that God has blessed us with in order to bless others — but sin marred that calling and, as a result, we often prefer to hoard our blessings. The problem is that when we try to hoard our blessings, they stop being blessings and instead become idols. As we learned, blessings are only truly blessings when they are passing through us to others. John puts it very plainly: “But if someone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but refuses to help — how can the love of God dwell in a person like that?” (1 John 3:17).
The church has a long history of blessing. One example is Robert Raikes, an English philanthropist who, over two hundred years ago, caught a vision for the education of children and started what became known as “Sunday schools.” At its height, over a million children were being taught in Raikes’ schools.
For us as a local church, we desire to bless everyone who walks through our doors, everyone we encounter, the organizations and schools we partner with, the neighborhoods we find ourselves in, and ultimately, the city in which we have been planted. This starts with us being a hospitable community on Sundays to people who may never have been to church before in their lives or who may be visiting us for the first time.
Being a blessing church means that we both proclaim and demonstrate the good news of God’s love for all. Being a blessing church also looks like giving of our time by volunteering for beautification days at Miner Elementary (where we have our services), as well as serving the needs of the kids by helping with tutoring or providing childcare at parent-teacher meetings; or giving money through our church to support organizations both international and local. Blessing communicates God’s love for us that we want to pass along; and it communicates God’s love for the people we seek to bless. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us:
The church is the church only when it exists for others … not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men [and women] of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.
REFLECT & RESPOND
Head: In what ways is your church a blessing — both to those who are in the community and to those who aren’t? In what ways are you a part of that?
Heart: Are there ways in which you feel like you — or your church — could grow in how you bless others?
Hands: What might it look like for you to be a part of how your church blesses its community and neighborhood — volunteering as part of a ministry team or serving at an outreach opportunity? Think of someone in the church who blesses others well — a friend, a small group leader, a volunteer, or a pastor. Drop them a note/text/email thanking them.
ADDITIONAL: Write a few sentences of blessing — words of affirmation — for each person in your small group. Send them to your group leader to collate and share. (This will likely take more than one day, so we’ll make more time for this tomorrow and the day after.)
Thank God for the ways he has blessed you; ask him to help you to be a part of the church’s mission to bless others.
When we hoard our blessings,
they stop being blessings
and instead become idols.