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How To Bless Others
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Photo: Massimo Valicchia
The world is becoming more polarized by the day - within religions, between religions, within communities, between communities, within political groups, between political groups, and the list is almost endless. Just read today's headlines in the news and this reality is hammered home. So in the midst of such fragmentation, the spiritual discipline of blessing the other develops more and more significance.

Blessing the other is an art that takes great thought, strong resolve, and tenacious courage. It is a profound litmus test of the depth of our spirituality. To wish the other well and show honor and respect to their core identity, when you have profound disagreement and often conflict, is at best extremely difficult and sometimes almost feels impossible.

So how is it humanly possible to offer such respect? I'm impressed by this statement: "Those who find the courage to share a common humanity may find they can bless anyone, anywhere."1 The ability to bless the other begins with a seriously significant worldview and spiritual paradigm:  sharing a common humanity. It's seeing the other as a part of the same family, the human family.

The New Testament Scriptures describe this profound reality: "We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future ... and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all" (Ephesians 4:4, 6).

Shared Vulnerabilities

What are the implications of this worldview? As Dr. Remen put it, it is having the willingness "to face shared vulnerabilities." In other words, we recognize that the places we often feel insecure and tender and vulnerable are often the same places the other feels them, too. A common humanity. We're all afraid and at times feel insecure of our place in the world, of our own significance, of our ability to maintain our personal dignity, to have some degree of control over our destiny and place in the world. Shared vulnerabilities. And we act out those insecurities at times in similar ways and at other times quite differently. But the root is often from the same soft spot.

That’s why, the above verses are preceded by a call to be sensitive to this common human vulnerability: “Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace” (Ephesians 4:2, 3).

When we have a willingness to face those shared vulnerabilities, we have the capacity to repair the world. "How old does someone have to be before you forget that everyone is a child of God?"2. Maintaining our sense of common humanity, shared vulnerabilities, empowers us to bless the other. At least that's where it starts.

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By Greg Nelson. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION © copyright 1996.

1Remen, Rachel Naomi, My Grandfather’s Blessings.
2Ibid


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