Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Be a Blessor!

Dear Friends,

Not much in the news surprises me anymore but a news report last week, gobsmacked me. First some background. You might remember that 500 years ago in Wittenberg, Germany, a rebel Catholic Priest, Martin Luther, fed up with his Roman Church nailed a proclamation to the church door and thus was born what we know today as Protestant Christianity. The news report I read, told of a progressive Evangelical Lutheran church* who, in an effort to reach outside of their church doors and bless the people of Wittenberg, had installed a “Priest Robot” in the public square. The robot senses a person in front of it and wishes them a “warm welcome.” The “priest” asks the person if they want to be blessed by a male or female voice and when it receives an answer, the robot smiles. It then raises both arms to the heavens and a bright light radiates out of the robot’s hands and shines on the person being blessed. The “priest” then says, “God bless and protect you” and recites a Bible verse. The church reports that some people are returning every day for the automated priest blessing. Now I apologize for my narrow-minded, orthodox understanding of the Bible, but I don’t read anywhere in the Gospels that Jesus appointed and ordained the 12 robots to do His work and build the church. And if Martin Luther was alive today, he’d be smashing the Wittenberg Priest Robot with an axe and running that Evangelical Lutheran church out of town! What’s next? The Wittenberg Kommunion Kiosk dispensing plastic cups of grape juice and a stale bread wafer?

As a Christian believer, there is no greater gift you can give someone than to bless them in the name of Jesus. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines a blessing as a spoken invocation of God’s favor on another. God is the source of all blessings. James 1:17 You and I have nothing to give on our own; we are simply the intermediary between God and the person receiving the blessing. That means we must have a relationship with God through Jesus before we can invoke God’s favor on another. Neither an atheist nor a robotic “priest” machine can invoke God’s blessings on someone. But as an adopted son or daughter of God, you do have the authority to do that. You can invoke the blessing of God on another. Do you?

There are two kinds of blessings we see in our Bible. To bless God doesn’t mean that we presumptuously bestow our favor on Him. Blessing God means expressing our gratitude towards Him. The second type of blessing is the invocation of God’s favor that we’re talking about here. The Bible is filled with examples of priests bestowing God’s blessing on the people, Leviticus 9:23  Numbers 6:23-26 and many examples of Godly people invoking His blessings on another person. Ruth 2:4  Ruth 2:20  2 Samuel 6:18 We bless our loved ones, Genesis 24:60 and Jesus tells us to even bless our enemies. Matthew 5:44 When we bless someone, we may find ourselves interceding for them. We stand in the gap for them – between them and God – and in our blessing, we ask that God give to them what they may have difficulty asking for themselves. 

We can simply say, “May God bless you” but than so can the Wittenberg Priest Robot. Once you’ve discerned what the person needs to hear from God and you seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our blessings sound more like these: May the Lord God bless you and keep you from all fear and anxiety...  May God bless you and keep you safe...  May the Lord God bless you and give you His peace in your heart today...  May God bless you and cause His face to shine upon you...  May God bless you and give you the wisdom to make your decision...  May God bless you and keep you strong during this season of testing... May God bless you and restore you today... May God bless you and keep you in His hands...

When we invoke God's favor on another, we bring the reality of God's presence into their lives. When we say,“May God bless you today” and then give them a specific blessing, we are speaking a prophetic word from God into their lives.That’s why, before we can truly bless others, we first need our own time with God. We can find ourselves uttering only meaningless platitudes when we speak out of our spiritual emptiness. We can only invoke those specific blessings from God when we are living in His presence and moving through our own life, hand-in-hand with Him. 

You are all blessed indeed. But I believe that God wants more for you. He wants you to be a blessor of others. He wants you to bless your family and your friends. He wants you to be a blessor of the person who cuts your hair. God wants you to be the one who intersects the life of the checker at Vons with the reality of His Son. When you’re in the doctor’s office waiting room, God wants you to be the one sitting next to the person who needs to be blessed by God at that very moment. God wants you to speak life-transforming blessings to others. No “priest robot” can do that. Only you can. That’s why God wants you to be more than just blessed. He wants you to be a blessor! Amen?

* NOTE: This Wittenberg church is not the ELCA Lutheran Church in America

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