The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24–26)
If you worship with LifePoint often, you are keenly familiar with these words. They constitute the blessing—or the benediction—by which we conclude our worship gatherings. Yet, by nature, this familiarity carries with it an inherent danger. Things with which we are most familiar can most easily be taken for granted—or worse, easily ignored.
Therefore, we need to re-expose our hearts to the potency of this blessing so we can remember why it matters for us. It is not a churchy statement we rattle off to make people feel sentimental. Rather, it puts us in touch with the reality of who we are in Christ, and it charts a course for our lives based upon that reality. Consider how Henri Nouwen explains it:
“. . . a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer. It is more than a word of praise or appreciation; it is more than pointing out someone’s talents or good deeds; it is more than putting someone in the light. To give a blessing is to affirm, to say ‘yes’ to a person’s belovedness. And more than that: to give a blessing creates the reality of which it speaks . . . A blessing . . . calls forth [our] belovedness.”
You see, God’s blessing outflanks the categories of this world. The world identifies us based on what we produce and how effectively we contribute to its causes. We’re either succeeding or failing at being attractive, marketable, powerful, trendy, or what have you—either to be admired or condemned for how we measure up. But God’s blessing rises above it all and—as Nouwen says—”affirms” who we actually are.
Through this, we come to realize that we are not made to be identified by the world’s categories; we are instead created to be accepted and beloved, not because of what we can contribute, but because of the identity we have received: “Beloved, we are God’s children now” (1 Jn. 3:2). Because of Jesus, we have a heavenly Father who is well-pleased with us and who speaks blessing over our lives.
Moreover, this “calls forth” our new identity in two ways. First, it gives us a basis for offering ourselves to others. Our relationships, financial stewardship, career, leisure, serving the church—all of it comes under the blessing of God. Thus what once seemed like unrelated areas of life to be leveraged for our own self-serving agendas have now become means for us to share His blessing with others. Each area of life now integrates for one purpose: expressing Christ’s love to the world.
Second, it causes us to genuinely love and worship God. The word benediction is a term derived from the Latin phrase to speak well of. Numbers 6:24-26 is LifePoint’s choice benediction because we believe that when people truly grasp that there is a God who speaks well of them in this way, they will be transformed to love Him in response with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Thus we cannot hear this blessing often enough.
As you come to church this Sunday, will you come ready to hear God speak well of you? Will you show up with an open heart to receive a blessing that affirms and calls forth your identity in Christ? Remember that, in Him, you are greatly loved—loved for your sake, for the sake of His glory, for the sake of the world. What could be greater than that?
Set List for Sunday, September 16, 2018
The Lion And The Lamb (B. Brown, B. Johnson, L. Mooring)
Living Hope (B. Johnson, P. Wickham)
What A Beautiful Name (B. Fielding, B. Ligertwood)
You Are God And You Are Good (M. Carter, A. Ivey, J. Reeves)
More Like Jesus (B. Ligertwood, S. Ligertwood, K. Stanfill, B. Younker)