27 Mar 2008

Joining God’s Mission, 1

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Hebrew Bible, Kingdom, Ministry, Mission, Preaching
In Genesis 12.1-3 we read of the beginning of God’s reclamation project—the promises made to Abram. God told Abram to go to a far country; he said Abram would be a blessing and that God would bless all creation through him.
By singling Abram out from every other person God acted in pure grace, but that grace was not intended for Abram alone. God had chosen Abram for a special mission—a mission of embodying the blessing of God to earth. He was to be God’s “blessed” man through whom Yahweh would spread the aroma of shalom to others. This same mission of being a blessing is given to Abram’s descendants (cf. Ps 136.21-22; Isa 49.6; etc).
As we read through the Torah we notice Yahweh making Abram into a blessing for those around him. Lot was blessed by his association with Abram. When the Five Kings of the East invaded, Abraham came to the rescue and he declined the booty for his exploits (Gen 14.21-24). The destruction of Sodom was delayed because of the promise to Abraham (Gen 18.18). Where Abraham and his descendants are found, God’s bountiful blessings come as well. Even Moab and Ammon who came from Lot (Gen 19.37-38) were to be blessed by their relationship with Israel (Deut 2.9, 19).
God’s original intent was that his people be a blessing. He states bluntly to Abram “you will be a blessing.” Abram, Isaac, Joseph, Israel, and the Church are to be a blessing to those around them. We are a blessing because we bring kingdom values to our communities; thus, we honor our promises and treat others with dignity and respect.
Not only are God’s people a blessing in the “physical” sense but also in a “spiritual” sense. We are to be a blessing to those around us by pointing them to the God of all blessing. We point them to the Cross of Jesus, so they too can share in God’s salvation from sin and ultimate death. We are to invite them to join God’s mission of blessing all creation.
Yes, from the very beginning, it was God’s plan that his people look beyond themselves and see it as their mission to be a blessing. Like Abraham we sometimes fail due to a lack of trust/faith (Gen 12.10-20; 20.1-18). However, God gives us grace so we can become yet a greater blessing to the world around us. Are we living up to our calling?

Bobby Valentine

13 Responses to “Joining God’s Mission, 1”

  1. Falantedios Says:

    “Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner… ’cause there’s no hiding place from the Father of Creation.”

    Sometimes I think we’re not much more of a blessing for our world than the people who waited around for the spaceship hiding behind the Hale-Bopp comet.

    And then I think, “At least they all just hid themselves in an enclave and waited.” They didn’t attack people who weren’t coming with them into their enclave.

    Ignoring the lost and hurting world around us is bad enough; kicking it while it is down is even worse.

    Ben’s mission statement on New Genesis really sums it up perfectly. I want to be like that.

    praying for shalom in your realm…

  2. kingdomseeking Says:

    Herein lies the heart of being Christian.

  3. Steve Puckett Says:

    As I’ve been preaching through Romans, the idea of Abraham as the father of us all (Romans 4:11, 16) certainly has as a part of its meaning that God will bless others through us.


  4. David Says:

    The greatest of obstacle to us being a blessing for this world is that thinking the source of the blessing comes from within us. We believe that we have all the answers, that our own goodness provides the blessings. Of course, we know and say that it is God that must be the source of such things…but too often we are simply giving lip-service to this thought…how quickly we get so confused!

    Looking forward to reading more on this thought.

  5. preacherman Says:

    Wonderfully said, Bobby.
    I am going to enjoy this series.
    Keep up the great work.
    I hope you have a blessed day brother!
    In Him,
    Kinney Mabry

  6. Alan Says:

    Abram certainly was selected by grace. But not without reason. God made many promises to Abraham, beginning in Gen 12. In Gen 15 he credited his faith as righteousness (an example of grace, but based on faith). Then in Gen 22:16-18 God told us *why* he made those promises to Abraham — because he obeyed in offering Isaac. God explicitly and clearly stated that reason.

    God knew in Gen 12 what would happen in Gen 22:

    Gen 22:15-18 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

    Those promises in Gen 22 are the same ones God had made earlier. The only difference in chapter 22 is that he tells us why he would do those things for Abraham: “because you have obeyed me.”

    So yes, it was grace. But it was based on both faith and obedience. Isn’t that what James 2:21-23 etc says?

  7. Vonnie Says:

    I am so happy. You sighed your post with Shalom instead of seeking Shalom. That’s progress

  8. Cheryl Russell Says:

    I really like this post! We are indeed blessed to be a blessing! Are we living up to our calling? That’s a great question. I love hearing about programs like the Touch a Life Foundation and Dorcas Children’s Home who are blessing people in both the physical and spiritual sense. On a personal note, I want to be more intentional about this in my own life.

  9. ben overby Says:

    And Abraham is the perfect example of the extreme tension that arises in our lives when we seriously embrace God’s vision for us and the world. The blessing was to come through his son via Sarah. For twenty five long years they waited for God to make good on his promise. The whole covenant of blessing was laughable by the time God was ready to act. In fact, Abraham fell out on the floor laughing at one point and at another time the Lord himself rebuked Sarah’s laughter. It was funny. God waited to until it just wasn’t biologically possible to bless the world through Abraham’s seed. Sarah wasn’t able to have children when she was young and by the time God was ready to get things rolling she was no longer producing eggs. Imagine how Abraham and Sarah must have felt; what they must have thought. They couldn’t manage God; he didn’t submit to their time table. Frustration. Doubt. Anger. Failed attempts to bring about the promise via a substitute wife. God’s blessings don’t come wrapped in soft tissue paper at the beginning of the journey. They come via blooded wrags, tear drenched pillows, and wrinkled faces. Crucibles. Crucifixions. Crisis that seems to drag on too long. We’re left to wonder what on earth He’s up to. We’re left hanging. We’re left in a position in which we must chose either to trust him or marginalize him.

    Our capacity to be a blessing is fueled by faith in God. It’s not the flimsy faith that’s never been challenged; it’s a faith with rough edges, bruised by wrestling in a ditch with the Lord, refusing to let go until he eventually twists us out of joint, and then and only then . . . gives us blessing. In the end, through the fog and the desperation born of a quarter century of near silence, Abraham hung on; he believed that God could create something from nothing and give life to the dead (as per Ro. 4).

    If we’ll just hang on, anything is possible. God will bless the world through us. If we grow impatient and attempt to grab the blessing (e.g., Hagar), we’ll be productive, get ministry success, we’ll be active, we’ll look superficially like “something,” and “somebody.”

    Hagar is today’s church. Many have crawled into bed with a comfortable mistress; settled for nothing when God would love to give them everything.

    From the Ditch,


  10. Gardner Hall Says:

    Great post and great comments, especially Nick’s and Ben Overby’s.

  11. Matthew Says:

    The godly influence of Christians should bring blessings on all. This is a great mindset for ministry.

  12. Falantedios Says:

    Dear Alan,

    That is precisely the dilemma we get into with a modern understanding of justification, an understanding where salvation, sanctification, vindication and justification are all the same.

    James says, “…a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

    God did not call Abram because of something special about Abram. If that is true, then Paul lies to the Athenians.

    God called Abram by grace, just as he called Noah by grace. Grace creates faith.

    Back to James: He says, “one is justified by works, and not faith alone.” He means that works of faith are how we (and the rest of the world) see that someone is a member of the community of faith.

    Not simple badges like circumcision, ritual washings, or particular ways of eating. By the daily life of faith in Jesus Christ that is radically different from the daily life of those who live in despair.

    James does NOT say that God made promises to Abram because he already knew Abram would obey him. The promises were made BEFORE the obedience. Moses makes that extremely clear. The reiteration of the covenant promises serves to encourage Abraham – NOT to tell us that Abraham earned them.

    “Because you have been faithful, I CAN work through you,” not “because you have been faithful, I WILL work through you.”

    in HIS love,

  13. Alan Says:

    HI Nick,

    You wrote:
    > James does NOT say that God made
    > promises to Abram because he already
    > knew Abram would obey him

    But God did say he made the promises *because* Abraham obeyed. (Gen 22:15-18) We have a hard time reconciling James and Paul, because we see a false dichotomy. Is it by faith, or is it because of obedience? We think it cannot be both. But James says the two work together.

    Everything God promised is by grace. But some of those promises are conditional. God has the right to give grace to whomever he wishes, on whatever conditions he wishes. That doesn’t keep it from being grace.

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