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…by Brian Walker

We are blessed….to be a blessing. I love how this idea runs all the way through God’s story. From the beginning of Genesis to God’s ultimate blessing in Christ to our continual participation in blessing others. There are two things I’d like to point out and a resource I’d like to pass along.

It’s important for us to look at Abraham’s story as we think about being a blessing to the nations. It was immediately after Abram was blessed by God that he encountered the Egyptians. In the heat of the moment, Abram was afraid and told Pharaoh that his wife Sarah or Sari was actually his sister. He did this because he didn’t want to be killed and have Sarah taken from him, since she was beautiful. So Pharaoh took Sarah as his wife. This brought all sorts of chaos and curses down upon the Egyptians and eventually they discovered that Sarah was actually Abram’s wife. So instead of being a blessing to the nations, Abram was being a curse. To top it off this kind of thing didn’t happen once but twice. The second time is found in Genesis 20 when Abraham tells King Abimelek that Sarah is his sister.

I think what we can take away from this is that we won’t always do everything right in blessing people or treating people correctly, but God will still use us to bless the nations. We see that even in Abraham’s story as he gave rise to a nation that gave rise to Christ! God is true in His promises and He will be true to us as we faithfully try to be a blessing to the nations.

Secondly, I think it’s important for us to see being a blessing in light of our live sent series. Remember 2 Corinthians 5:16-21:

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

I love that passage. There is a strong connection between the idea that we are Christ’s ambassadors/aroma and we are a blessing to the nations. As we share this message of reconciliation we are bringing people a blessing. We share the hope of the world that is in Christ! The old has gone and the new has come! Think about that as you engage with how to be a blessing in the world.

Finally, I want to share a good resource from diving deeper into being a blessing and praying through how God might use you. I found this resource as we were looking for creative ideas for this past Sunday. It is a worship project put together by some people from Willow Creek. The whole series is called “A New Liturgy.” If you aren’t familiar with what liturgy means, it literally means “the work of the people.” It’s meant to be a term of participating in worship. It’s not the sole job of the worship leader to worship God, but for us as His people to worship Him. So this liturgy offers groups or even individuals to worship God and experience what it means to be a blessing. Practically, this liturgy is a mixture of prayer, scripture and song that is led by “worship leader” on the audio tracks.

I hope this helps you engage even more with what it means to be a blessing. You’ll want to open up both the lyrics and the audio to get the most out of it.

Blessed to be a Blessing Audio

A New Liturgy – No 2: Blessed to Be a Blessing

Blessed to be a Blessing Lyrics and First 10 min of audio

Engaging Culture

…by Brian Walker

Andy points out how the Church has impacted culture in the past and in fact we even continue to do so today. Think about the challenge of engagement this week as a more personal way of impacting culture. Perhaps you naturally retreat from engaging those around you or perhaps you blend in too well. Wherever you are in your journey, this is the week where we make progress in engaging those around us.

Looking at our impact or engagement with culture leads us to another important consideration. The relationship with the Church and culture is not one way. Andy demonstrated how the Church heavily impacted the Roman culture (and the same is probably true of American culture), but the Church was also impacted by Roman culture as well. One example of cultural impact we see is found in the book of Acts. Coming from a Jewish background, early Christians like Peter excluded the Gentiles because they were viewed as unclean and uncircumcised. The sign of circumcision was vital for any man to become a true part of the Jewish community. However, God had a different plan for His Church, which he revealed to Peter. After a vision (check out Acts 10), Peter became a champion for including the Gentiles into the Church. We see that even in the early Church there was cultural impact.

Cultural impact even takes place today and it is something that we should become more aware of. I never really started noticing cultural impact until I began studying cross-cultural worship. A part of this study included how missionaries introduced worship in different places. Often missionaries would introduce western music, which was completely foreign to the native culture. In some cultures, this introduction led to elevating western culture as the “proper” or “christian” culture. On the other hand, it is increasingly becoming more common for missionaries to observe the native culture and find natural expressions of Christianity within their culture. This leads to breaking down barriers in sharing the Gospel and helps people relate. This study helped me to realize how culture and Christianity interact. I’ve even begun to better see how our culture interacts with Christianity.

I would encourage you to take some time to become more aware of how you, as the Church, are impacting culture and how culture is impacting you. This awareness is important for us in revealing areas that Christ might be able to better shape us. As we embrace living sent, we can also learn from the example of modern missionaries in observing culture. By learning the stories (culture) of those around us, we will find relevant ways to share the Gospel. It is important for us to engage with culture and I hope you become more aware of how we interact with it.