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Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you!

February 27, 2016

A good number of years ago a told me about their cousin. This cousin had got a holiday job as a temporary postman over the Christmas rush. They were back from university, and wanted some money but they also wanted to sleep in, to rest, and to enjoy their holiday. Then they got a ‘great’ idea. They would turn up at the depot first thing, collect the post to deliver, then dump it in their father’s shed and go back to bed. It worked. At least for a while.

But after about a week complaints started to reach the Post Office. People started to ask questions. The shed was now  full too and he was having to stuff the post under his bed and jam it into his wardrobe at home. Then the police were called, he was hauled off in front of his shocked parents, he was arrested, and he was prosecuted. The poor lad was terrified. He was a bright lad but in his stupidity (and laziness) he hadn’t realised just how serious his actions were. Then when he started to come to his senses, he didn’t know how to get out of the mess he’d got himself into. In the end he received a suspended sentence, just avoiding jail mostly because he was able to return the mountain of post that he had failed to deliver but also due to the compassion of the judge.

That is how the world is. Actions have consequences. Privileges, like the privilege of being trusted with a responsible job, come with blessings (perhaps a wage) and responsibilities (like having to deliver the post).

Reading 1 Corinthians 10.1-13, I hear Paul reminding his readers about the experience of his own people, the Jews. Paul’s people had been called by God to be a special, priestly people. As a priestly people they were to be different from the people around them. They were to show all people that the One God was the real god of all. They as priests were to bring the things of this world to God (good and bad). As priests they were also to bring God back to the people of the world. The key here is that this wasn’t just about the Jewish people. They were not called to be a special people for themselves alone.

When God called Abraham he said:

“Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation. You will become famous and be a blessing to others. I will bless anyone who blesses you, but I will put a curse on anyone who puts a curse on you. Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you.” (Genesis 12.1-3 CEV)

God’s people were to be special so that “everyone on earth” could be blessed because of them! That is a huge privilege, but also a huge responsibility. When Jesus spoke to his fellow Jews he was trying to call them back into being the special people God had originally called them to be all those centuries before. Jesus was warning them that they were not living as this special blessing to all people and so they were in danger of losing their special status.

Just think of the parable of the fig tree from Luke 13:

Jesus then told them this story:

A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. One day he went out to pick some figs, but he didn’t find any. So he said to the gardener, “For three years I have come looking for figs on this tree, and I haven’t found any yet. Chop it down! Why should it take up space?”

The gardener answered, “Master, leave it for another year. I’ll dig around it and put some manure on it to make it grow. Maybe it will have figs on it next year. If it doesn’t, you can have it cut down.” (Luke 13.6-9 CEV)

Actions have consequences and Jesus was warning the people of his day that God was getting close to handing on to others their inheritance as God’s special people. Actions have consequences. They were not producing the fruit that they should as God’s special people, just like the fig tree in the story wasn’t bearing figs. Again like the story, God was giving one final chance: He had sent his only Son as their Messiah to give them every possible chance to produce some fruit, to start showing signs of being a blessing for everyone on earth.

Jesus tried to show them the danger they were in. Jesus warned them; and they rejected and killed him, sealing their rejection by God.

So what of me, one of those who have inherited that special status as a royal priesthood. Well I’m told that I shouldn’t be complacent. I hear loud and clear that I should listen to the lessons of history and live as one whose purpose is to bring God’s blessing to everyone on earth.

I need to remember that, like my friend’s cousin, I suffer when my laziness and stupidity get the better of me. Remembering all those people who didn’t get Christmas blessings from friends and family, I also need to remember that when I fail to bring God’s blessing to others, the world suffers too.

I want all the blessings that God gives to me, the peace, the love, the contentment, healing and a personal relationship with my creator; and all the rest. I want the benefits of being part of God’s special people, but I am so tempted just to put my feet up and leave it at that. I am so tempted to shove the letters in the shed and to let others be a blessing to the people of this earth.

I need to hear the warning that Jesus gives, and hear it said to me. I need to hear Paul’s warnings, and hear them said to me. I know that I can and I do fail to be a blessing so much of the time. I know that I need help every day to overcome the temptations to be selfish or lazy. Those temptations are so seductive: “No one will notice, no one will really mind”. But in the end it is bound to go so wrong. Actions have consequences. My friend’s cousin was arrested for not delivering the mail. When I stop letting God’s blessings flow out of me to others, I find that I start to lose the blessings myself. I suffer and those around me suffer too.

To encourage me I also need to remember God’s words to Abraham and hear them said to me: be faithful and God will bless me, he will bless me and make me a blessing too. Amen.

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