Blessed To Receive a Blessing

 In Telling a Better Story

By Matt Adair

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

But it is still a blessing to receive.

I’m grateful for the work that so many are doing to welcome and advocate for immigrants and refugees. I want to deepen our conviction and commitment to this particular way to love like Jesus. I’d like to remind us of what we receive by welcoming, working and worshipping alongside persons of different racial, ethnic and national backgrounds.

God’s Exclusive Blessing

In 2014, I preached at a conference of church planters about God’s desire for every expression of his Church to be diverse. I invited them to start churches that would live as an intercultural community.

Almost a decade later, I would say the same thing again. And yet as I look back at that message, I see an opportunity missed in that moment.

I emphasized that we are better together. Today I want to also emphasize the unique way we experience blessing across cultural lines. From Genesis 12:1-2 to Ephesians 1:3 and beyond, there is a unique blessing available to us as an intercultural community.

And building on the work of Dr. Dennis Edwards in his book, Might from the Margins: The Gospel’s Power to Turn the Tables on Injustice, I want to say that God gives us that blessing in surprising ways.

God does not only bless outsiders through insiders and the powerless through the powerful. There is divine blessing given only to the outsider and the power-deprived.

We live in a racialized society. God blesses racial, ethnic and nationalized minorities in a unique way. Why? To provide for needs in places and parts of individuals and communities that have been shell-shocked and starved. But he does not intend for those blessings to be kept to themselves.

God blesses the outsider.

God blesses the powerless.

And he gives them the dignity and honor of sharing that blessing with others. The outsiders bless the insiders. The powerless bless the powerful.

On Earth as It Is In Heaven

God reverses the flow of blessing here and now. Is this not what Jesus invited his disciples to experience and embrace?

Blessing to those who are poor and powerless.

Blessing to those who pursue love and justice.

Blessing to those who create peace.

God blesses them. They bless the world with their unique gifts.

The gifts of tears and hope and nonviolent resistance.

The gifts of discernment and doing God’s will.

The gifts of enemy love and unwavering allegiance to Jesus.

This is life in the kingdom of heaven.

This is heaven breaking in on earth.

Blessing for those this world has cursed.

Blessing that breaks the curse on this world.

Grace From “Them”

At the church I help lead in Atlanta, here’s how we describe our passion for intercultural community:

We experience Jesus in relational spaces where multiple cultures are present and valued.

God’s design and desire for his Church is to flourish as an intercultural community. Each person and family contribute their cultural identity within our church’s relational spaces. Within these spaces, each cultural contribution is valued as part of a kaleidoscope that displays God’s grace.

Take a look at that last sentence again.

Each culture contributes who they are and what they have. When others receive those particular gifts, they experience grace – the loving, empowering presence of God. It is this grace that is the heart and soul of what we experience as God’s blessing.

God blesses us. He graces us. He gives us his loving, empowering presence.

He gives us himself.

When other people bless us through their unique and particular cultural contributions, we experience God’s grace. Grace that is not available apart from the uniqueness and particularity of that cultural contribution. A portal into the character and work of God that we cannot experience apart from this person or group from another culture.

Transformational Community

Our churches are living through a crisis of discipleship.

We are not becoming like Jesus.

We do not love like Jesus.

Why not? Because we have not healed from our traumas and wounds. Because we have not developed into emotional, relational and spiritual maturity.

We are not yet willing and able to live and love like Jesus.

So, if we want to make disciples who love like Jesus, we need transformational community. We need to involve ourselves in an intercultural and intergenerational family. We need the healing and maturing grace that is only found in life together.

This is why we welcome the refugee, the immigrant and the stranger.

This is why we worship across cultural lines and preference.

This is why we work together.

To bless. To heal. To recover. To grow.

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

But it is still a blessing to receive.

Matt Adair serves as the Pastor for Transformational Discipleship at Fellowship Bible Church in Atlanta, GA. He is also the founder of Transformational Discipleship (, an initiative that helps churches make disciples who love like Jesus.

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