This week we are doubling up on our readings and will be discussing Chapter 5: “Bless!” and Chapter 6: “Go!” of the Rev. Scott Gunn’s book: The Way of Love: A Practical Guide to Following Jesus. As Rev. Gunn points out, Bless and Go tend to overlap quite a bit.
A Blessing for Others:
What does it mean to bless others? On one level, Rev. Gunn points out, we too often equate blessing others, with merely helping them out. But blessing others goes beyond merely fulfilling someone’s material needs. To bless primarily means to “make holy” or “to consecrate.” But as we see in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:1-12), blessing has a sense of supreme happiness and joy. Our calling, therefore, is to be a blessing and to bless others, not simply to provide them with material goods. (Although the two certainly are not mutually exclusive. See, James 2:16). To be a blessing to others, we need to understand who we are, who they are, and how to engage.
We cannot give that which we do not have. We cannot bless others unless we too have been blessed by God in Christ. God promised Abraham that “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 . . . . and by you, all the people of the earth shall bless themselves.” Gen. 12:2-3. God blessed Abraham so that Abraham could bless others. Therefore, like Abraham, we bless others only by giving them the blessing that God has already given to us. Before blessing others we must first take hold of that blessing that has been promised to us. And this blessing comes to us through our Turning, Learning, Praying, and Worshipping.
Discerning the Image of God:
In order to be a blessing to others, we must understand who the other is. Fundamentally, that person, regardless of who they are or anything they have done, bears the image of God. Gen. 1:27. We are a blessing when we see that image in the other person and call that image forth. We bless not by imparting the divine blessing to them, but by calling out the divine blessing that is already present within them.
Metropolitan Anthony Bloom (1914-2003) writes that “Unless we look at a person and see the beauty there is in this person, we can contribute nothing to him. One does not help a person by discerning what is wrong, ugly, and distorted. Christ looked at everyone he met and saw the beauty hidden therein. And what he did was to call out that beauty.” Think about the story of “Beauty and the Beast.” Belle became a blessing for the Beast because in loving the Beast she brought out the love that was buried deep within him. Just as God’s blessing of us calls out his image within us, so our blessing of others calls out God’s image within them.
Being a blessing to others is not a one-size-fits-all activity. How we become a blessing to someone else depends upon them and their circumstances. In his book Becoming a Healing Presence (that we studied during Eastertide 2018), Dr. Albert Rossi concludes with the observation that “‘Becoming a healing presence’ is a code phrase for loving others as best we can. It is code for actively listening to others, intuiting their needs, and serving them in whatever way we can.” p.150. To bless others requires intentionality on our part. To bless others requires our active engagement with them.
Rev. Gunn ends his chapter on “Bless” with the following questions:
1. When is a time you blessed or were blessed in a way that helped you grow in your faith?
2. What keeps you from blessing or accepting blessings more readily?
3. What might you do to bless and be blessed in more ways, more often?
Schedule: This Sunday is Beer and Hymns at Tidal Creek Brewery at Market Common at 5 pm.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is a blue plate special: pork chops, applesauce, and strawberry-rhubarb cobbler. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here!
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are men of faith are blessed with Abraham who had faith.Galatians 3:8-9