I had quite a few questions that arrived in my mind throughout 2020. Some questions I found answers to, some questions I was content with leaving unanswered, and still some questions that I'm struggling to find relief. One question that kept coming up in my heart, "What is the point/purpose of the Christian Church on earth?" has stayed with me. I won't argue that I have found all the answers, but for now, the answer is two-fold. One, the Christian Church is to bring honor and glory to God, and two, the Christian Church is to be a blessing to all people. Of course, how we do these two things practically leads us to more questions, but I digress. In my recent reading of Daniel, I was struck by a confirmation of my thesis.
In Daniel 1:10 and Daniel 2:24, we see Daniel responding to God in obedience, but out of that obedience, we see a direct impact on other people. Because of his conviction and confidence in God, Daniel can bless others. Please note that it is not a simple leave-a-pie-at-the-door-blessing that he bestows on his peers: he saves their lives! How's that for a blessing?
The Biblical texts got me thinking about the Christian Church in America. How are we being a blessing, that is- saving the lives of peers, in America? How is this deep work being accomplished? Notice, I'm not talking about eternal life here, though that is of the utmost importance, I'm talking about life on earth. Over the last several years (in my memory, it feels like the previous 20 years, but after a brief look into the history of American Christianity, I'm finding it to be much longer than that), the Church has acted on a defense of sorts. "Protecting" the Christian way from the secular society at large and playing the role of moral supremacy has been our calling card. But where has that gotten us? How many lives have we blessed? How many lives have we physically saved? Why has the American Church not led the way in mental health awareness? Why has the American Church not taken the lead in fighting for racial justice and racial reconciliation/healing? I have an idea of why. We have forgotten how to be a blessing. In our fighting for the morals of Jesus, have we lost our ability to bless as Jesus blessed?
In Daniel 2:24, Daniel is in the line of fire, as King Nebuchadnezzar wants to get rid of all the wise men in Babylon. While the King is exclusively angry with his inner circle of wise men, who can't meet his demand for interpreting his recent dream, all the wise men in the land will pay with their lives. Insert Daniel. With confidence in the Lord, Daniel requests to meet with the King. His goal? To save his life and the lives of the wise men. Daniel succeeds. Lives saved. Yet Daniel doesn't call attention to the wise men and their ineptness, or the fact that they don't recognize his God as God. He saves their lives and his own, end of the story. It's interesting that these same wise men never save Daniel's life, but isn't that the point? We are to bless, just as Daniel did. Bless those who can do nothing for us in return. Bless those who are out to get us. Our job is not to defend God, and never fear, He doesn't need our defenses. (More often than not, our "defense of God and our convictions" have more to do with us than Him anyway). We are to bless.
We are created to bless.
I don't have a guide on how to do this. It can feel messy. How do we bless those who disagree with us? What is the cost we must pay to bless those who are our enemy, or perceived enemy, anyway? How do we stand in our convictions while offering love? All great questions I lose sleep because of. And while I don't have all the answers, I will leave you with somewhere to start. In dealing with human beings in 2021, I implore you to join me in these two steps:
Step 1: Approach every human life with humility.
Step 2: Listen carefully.
I'll have to get back to you on the next steps. I think these two will keep us busy for the time being.