Sunday, December 06, 2020

Not Just Nice Words, A Blessing Is an Impartation

                                                              (Art by Gary Wilson)

"We know that God is present everywhere, 
but he is not manifest everywhere."

Dallas Willard

The omnipresent God is able to localize his omnipresence. God can show up in a tabernacle in the wilderness, in the Temple on Mount Zion, on an ancient, dusty road to Emmaus, in your church building's sanctuary, and in your living room. 

God often manifests himself through words. Through the words of Scripture, through words of knowledge and wisdom spoken in the body of Christ, and through Spirit-inspired blessings, given to people. 

Near the end of his life my father blessed me with his words. What a great gift this not only was, but is to me! A blessing is an impartation, an empowerment.

This is the purpose of biblical blessings; viz., that God shows up and accomplishes the blessing in the person being blessed. It's not just nice, warm words that are sweet to hear. When, e.g., I bless someone with peace, I expect the Spirit to bestow peace upon the person. In the words of blessing there is a great doing

In Numbers 6:24-26 we hear the great Aaronic blessing:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,

And give you peace.”’

This is more than a slogan on a poster. A Hebraic blessing is an "speech act." That is, it does something. (See J. L. Austin, How to Do Things With Words.) 

The words “The Lord bless you” mean "“God bring good constantly into your life.” “The Lord bless you and keep you.” That means “God protect you. God build around you his safekeeping. The blood of Jesus and the Spirit of Christ be over you and keep you.”" (Willard, op. cit., p. 165)

A blessing accomplishes enduring things. Willard writes:

"The invocation, the blessing, is designed to project that presence of God in a manifest way to the person you are talking to. “The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” Peace comes in the presence of God, in having God’s shining face over you and in having him looking to you." (Ib., pp. 166-167)

My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church