You move quickly up the ladder of friendship with me if you can quote Seinfeld.
There’s this awesome ep of Seinfeld when Jerry’s doing stand-up about saying “God bless you” to someone when they sneeze. He goes on and on about how weird and vague it is to say that. “What does that even mean?!”
Jerry and Elaine come up with an alternative saying to share. Instead of saying “bless you,” they decide that telling someone they are good looking would be so much better of a “blessing.”
“You are soooooo good looking!”
Pretty awesome, huh? Who wouldn’t be blessed by that?
Today’s word is in the Lenten photo-a-day challenge is bless. It got me immediately thinking about saying “God bless you” to someone after they sneeze. Just like Jerry and Elaine wonder, I want to know what that means. It could mean so much to different people! Sometimes the things we want blessed aren’t necessarily on God’s to-do list. “God bless America” (or the response “America, bless God”) comes to my mind. This is one of those things that has a vague meaning. Does that mean we want God to bless us financially and materialistically so we can have every physical thing we’ve ever wanted? Funny, but Scripture talks about us finding our blessings in how content we are in Christ, not in our stuff.
Christ followers need to rethink how we go about blessing people. Maybe some of the ways we do it don’t really bless a person.
Early on in this Rabbi Jesus movement, one of the important leaders named Paul taught different communities about how to live among those who do not know God. A great example comes out of the letter he wrote to the Christ followers in Rome. The original recipients of that letter lived in the heart of an empire that considered them mondo weirdos. Think about it. These Christ followers worshipped only one God but that God is revealed in a human man, Jesus of Nazareth. This went against the grain of worshipping the emperor as a god, plus gobs of others. The “little Christs,” as they were called, held “love feasts.” They called one another “brother and sister” and were supposed to greet one another with a “holy kiss.” The Romans thought some sort of incest was happening.
Weirdest thing of all? The celebration of communion sounded like the Christ followers were a pack of cannibals “eating the flesh and drinking the blood” of this Jesus.
Creepfest, if you’re a typical Roman citizen.
So how does Paul teach the Roman Christ followers to bless the pagan communities around them?
“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
This is what we need to get back to, as Christ followers. Our neighborhoods are in need of us living, breathing, and blessing them. Our neighbors are right next door to us! Be with them when it hits the fan. Jump up and down when they score a win in life. Be crazy generous. Go all spazzy in loving the people around you, in the name of the one who loved us first.