5 Ways to B.L.E.S.S. Your Neighbors
From the beginning of the Gospel story, God has called out people and blessed them in order to be a blessing to others. God does not win us over through fear or power, he wins us over through blessing. In blessing we experience the nature of God. This is what he tells Abraham in Genesis 12:
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
At Rise, that is our desire. That the people of our city would be blessed through us. What if every one of our neighbors could experience God’s blessing through us as his ambassadors? He aren’t on a mission to convert; we are on a mission to bless.
So what does this look like? Let’s get really practical. Below is an incredibly helpful framework created by Dave Ferguson using an acronym for the word BLESS.
B - Begin with Prayer
What if we actually asked God: "how do you want me to bless the my neighbors, coworkers and friends?” We need to allow space and opportunity for God to open our eyes for how we can be a blessing to the people he’s put in our lives.
When you do this, your entire mindset will change. You’ll start to see every relationship as an opportunity to display the Gospel.
L - Listen
When you meet people, or run into your neighbor at the mailbox, ask them questions. Get to know them. Hear their story, their struggles, their hopes, their pains. Ask them about their kids and pets. Ask them the story behind their tattoos.
And when they share, don’t just look for an opportunity to interject. View this as an opportunity to understand them on a deeper level. To see who they truly are. By actually listening to someone, you communicate loud and clear “You Matter!"
E - Eat
If you eat 3 times a day, 7 days a week, that’s 21 meals. What if just one of those was spent with a neighbor or co-worker who doesn’t know Jesus. There is something sacred and special about two humans breaking bread or sharing coffee. We let our guards down and enjoy to goodness of what God has created.
How many stories of Jesus involved him sharing meals with others? He is constantly stopping what he is doing to sit and eat and drink. We can learn so much from him in this regard.
You can deeply bless someone by communicating to them that they are worth your time. That you want to invite them into your home or sit with them over your lunch break. This is how Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford put it in their book, Right Here Right Now:
“Sharing meals together on a regular basis is one of the most sacred practices we can engage in as believers. Missional hospitality is a tremendous opportunity to extend the Kingdom of God. We can literally eat our way into the kingdom of God! If every Christian household regularly invited a stranger or [neighbor] into their home for a meal once a week, we would literally change the world by eating!”
S - Serve
When you listen to people, when you share meals with people, you’ll start to know how you can serve them. You’ll know that they’ve struggled to pull their weeds because the hurt their back at work. You’ll know to send them flowers in the anniversary of brothers death. You’ll know they love Blazers and can invite them over to watch the game with you.
Serve your neighbors. Love them in very practical ways. Maybe you need to set apart $25 a month in your budget for this. Maybe you need to keep a notebook page of ideas of ways you go do this. But take the time to ask “How can I serve this person?” and then have the guts to follow through and do it.
S - Story
And now lastly, when the time is right, we can share the story of how Jesus has changed our lives. We allow them into our lives—to know us—our ups and down, fear and failures, hopes and dreams. And most importantly, how our story has been changed by Jesus. This isn’t some formal presentation, it’s your story. It should overflow from who you are and what God has done.
We have been set apart to bless our city on behalf of the One who has blessed us. God has actually already prepared these opportunities for blessings and merely asks us to walk in them (Eph 2:10).
So here is what I would ask of you church: That you would seek to just one of these things each week. It may be to stop and pray. It may be to just listen. Maybe you need to schedule a meal. Perhaps you already know how you can serve your neighbor. But if we’re going to saturate our city with the Gospel, it’s going to start with us being blessings in our individual lives, one neighbor at a time.