The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Are you a blessing machine?


#1

Jesus issues this command: “Bless those who curse you (Lukr 6:27).” Are you a blessing machine? Is it part of your lifestyle to bless everyone you encounter in a potentially meaningful way? Or do you even know what I’m talking about?

Numbers 6:22-26 offers an elegant model for this blessed practice:
"The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying,
Thus you shall bless the Israelites. You shall say to them:
“May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Unlike standard petitionary prayers, to bless someone does not mean to seek a specific outcome. You don’t direct God on how to do His business. Rather, by an act of faith, you simply confer a blessing, which means “divine favor.” Part of that divine favor is a request that God keep the targets. But you leave it up to God to determine the form and extent of this divine preservation and protection. Then you ask God to allow your targets to experience the radiance of God’s smile on their circumstances with the result that they feel bathed in the brightness of unmerited divine favor. What does it mean for God to “lift up His countenance upon you?” As a result of the blessing, you experience God suddenly shifting His gaze from other matters to focus lovingly on you with all your needs, thus producing a profound sense of peace (shalom), i. e. a profound sense of spiritual wholeness, of integrating all the conflicting aspects of you experience into a state of relaxed contentment.

In this thread, I will share glowing examples of people for whom blessing others is a way of life and I invite you to share your experiences of blessing others or being blessed by loving Christians. To get us started, consider this blessing placed on a struggling young pianist.

(1) At age 16 Andor Foldes was already a skilled pianist, but he was experiencing a troubled year. In the midst of the young Hungarian’s personal struggles, one of the most renowned pianists of the day came to Budapest. Emil von Sauer was famous not only for his abilities; he was also the last surviving pupil of the great Franz Liszt. Von Sauer requested that Foldes play for him. Foldes obliged with some of the most difficult works of Bach, Beethoven, and Schumann.

When he finished, von Sauer walked over to him and kissed him on the forehead. “My son,” he said, “when I was your age I became a student of Liszt. He kissed me on the forehead after my first lesson, saying, ‘Take good care of this kiss–it comes from Beethoven, who gave it to me after hearing me play.’ I have waited for years to pass on this sacred heritage, but now I feel you deserve it.”

Consider these 3 examples of a ministry of blessing.
(1) Some churches embrace a blessing ministry. Volunteers divine up their city into blocks and regularly walk the streets, silently blessing each home as they walk. As curious residents slowly learn about this ministry, the walkers ask them if they have any specific prayer burdens for them to bear. This ministry can be effective for both the walkers and those receiving the blessing.

(2) At a funeral I attended a few days ago, the pastor shared this testimony of his son Duane. Duane suffered from serious knee damage and was in constant pain. Then one Sunday at church, Mary saw him in conversation with another man and felt compelled to lovingly touch him on the shoulder. She did not have a physical healing in mind; she just wanted to bless him. From the moment of that touch, Duane’s Dad told me that his son never had any knee pain again!

(3) My friend Lloyd shared this testimony of a friend of his. The friend was a militant atheist with no interest in religion. One day, he shopped at a very crowded mall. As he was negotiating his way through the crowd, he accidentally jostled a lady in his path. She touched him to brace herself. He apologized, she just smiled, and they both went their separate ways–except now his life was completely different! He was suddenly obsessed with the thought that a personal relationship with a loving God was a genuine possibility for him and, by the end of the day, he had committed his life to Christ.

Only years later did he see a photo of Kathryn Kuhlman who attracted thousands of people to her healing meetings. Kathryn loved to bless people with her loving touch and apparently had turned an awkward encounter in that mall into an opportunity to bless this man. Little did she know that her blessing was the most life-changing moment of Lloyd’s friend’s life.


#2

God is omnipresent and the ground of all being rather than the greatest being among countless other beings (Acts 17:30). God’s ways and thoughts are “higher” than our ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:7-8). So it is often hard for us to wrap our mind around the thought that God’s essence is also Love and thus God wants a “personal” relationship with us. So anthropomorphic biblical expressions like “God smiles on us” and "God turns His “face” or “countenance towards us” can serve as images that allow our imagination to bypass our inability to “try” to believe and make contact.

What does this mean in practice? It is easier to “feel” my way to God than to “think” my way to God, but often life’s hardships make me feel empty, God feels profoundly absent, and my prayers seem to “bounce off the ceiling.” Of course, since God is within us, we don’t need our prayers to go anywhere. So when I bless someone by asking God to let them see His “face” and experience His “smile,” what I want is for God to first make the recipient of my blessing aware that He has turned His loving attention to them and is taking pleasure in their sheer company. The sweetness of this preliminary perception sets the stage for more effective petitionary prayer and creates confidence that God has totally forgiven our confessed sins.