December 22, 2010

CSL: Christian as a Second Language [LESSON 2]

Hopefully you've had a chance to use the word "Church" properly this week. If somehow you missed Lesson #1, make sure you read that first. Click HERE. On to Lesson #2 in making sure you can walk in to any church next Sunday and fit right in. In fact, after this word study, you could even go grab lunch with any of your friends who are Christians. That's right. All you have to do is know how to say "The Blessing"! Let's get started.

Somewhere between the time the Apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos and the first episode of Happy Days hit the air, a tradition was started. When Christians gather to eat a meal - whether with friends, family, or even on their own - they begin by saying "The Blessing". For much of my life I wondered (even while I was the one saying it), "What is it exactly that I'm blessing?" Have I really been given the supernatural power to bless the food I'm about to eat? And for that matter, do we really think that the hosts of Heaven would grant a blessing to half of the junk we consume? I think not. So again, back to the question: What the heck are we blessing?

The main argument or rebuttal here is easily predictable. "Brian, WE'RE not blessing the food...God is! WE'RE not supernaturally empowering the lasagna to energize us...HE is! It's GOD who blesses!" OK, let's say for a moment that I agree with you. If that's the case, then why am I asked, "Brian, will you SAY the blessing?" Wouldn't the proper question be, "Brian, would you be willing to ask God to bless the food?" [And let me once again acknowledge that for many I know this seems to be a matter of irritating semantics. But our WORDS create and transform the way we THINK.] But again, let me go back to my earlier point: Do we really think that when we sit down to eat a burger and fries and milkshake that the Lord of hosts - the Creator of the Universe (and of fruits and vegetables) - is going to take the time to "bless" a heart attack on a plate? "Dear Lord, Would you see kindly to bless this slab of hot wings and onion rings I'm about to woof down like a mad wolverine?" Seriously?

Where in the Christian language this all began, I don't know. But I would submit that it might be much more appropriate, a whole lot more accurate, and even take the focus off of US and solely place it on HIM, to come together for a meal and very intentionally "Give Thanks"! Isn't that what our intent is in the first place? No one sits down at Thanksgiving, swarmed around the turkey, ready to say "The Blessing". We're there to give THANKS! When I take those 45 seconds to bow my head and humbly and quietly acknowledge the Lord's provision, it's because I'm aware of the fact that there are TONS of people in this world who are scratching and clawing to figure out where there next meal is going to come from. How can I NOT give thanks? How could I possibly be ungrateful? How could I have the audacity - even if it's not what I really mean - to think that it needs to be "blessed"? It's already been blessed. YOU'VE already been blessed! Just the mere fact that the food is on the table or on your plate is the revelation that the Creator, Sustainer, and Great Provider has already done so. It's been blessed, already! So take a moment - choose your words carefully - humble yourself before your Father in Heaven - and GIVE THANKS.

As Christmas Day is approaching, and so is the time when you're more than likely to be gathering with some of your closest friends, family, and loved ones, I would encourage you to take some time to think about a simple choice in front of you: Is it a blessing you're after...or an opportunity to say, "Thank You, Lord". Let your words be a reflection of the intent of your heart.

Lesson #3 coming soon......

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