The story of the Bible, according to biblical scholar N.T. Wright, is the plotline in which “obedient humans following the Obedient Human act as stewards over creation, bringing new creation to bear, and gathering up the praises of that creation to present them to its maker.”
Jesus was the one Obedient Human, and through the gift of his spirit, we experience restoration, becoming new people, stewards of the world. As stewards, we gather up praises for God in heaps.
These “praises” are experiences, emotions, vignettes, from everyday life that we authenticate as spirit-sponsored manifestations. For example, when a Christian person is moved charitably to feed a homeless man, we acknowledge that it is the spirit of God working in them, motivating them to be generous. And we say to God, “Thank you for the movement of your spirit in this person, and thank you for letting me witness this moment.”
This is praise.
We praise God for what he’s doing in others, and we praise God for his willingness to let us be a part of it. We gather these praises and give them to the father as evidence of new creation. As a result, God gets glory. When we do the things God wants us to do and live the way God designed us to live, not only do we give him glory, but his glory spills over onto us. There is a residual benefit for obedience, stewardship, and creativity. We experience abundance and prosperity as life’s conditions, relationships, and holism are improved.
In Hebrew the word that describes this good life is shalom. In Greek, it’s makarios. These words both mean “blessing.” They don’t mean happiness, per say, but happiness is included in the idea. Blessing is more comprehensive than happiness, less constrained by circumstances. Blessing is something we receive from God and cannot create for ourselves. It’s what occurs when God is at work both in and through our lives. As we experience blessing, God gets even more glory by virtue of our praise.
When I give my son a Lego set, it is a blessing. As he enjoys the gift, I enjoy his enjoyment, and I too, am blessed. When we build the Lego together, our blessing is deepened by our shared love and relationship.
Additionally, when Jacob goes off and imagines some new feat of Danish plastic engineering and returns to show it off, I am blessed by the application of his creativity, and he is blessed by my enthusiasm.
This is how blessing works.
This is how glory works.
I bless my son with a gift, and he blesses me by enjoying the gift and thanking me for it. God blesses me with the gift of my son, and is blessed by our acknowledgement that every good thing we have comes from him. He gets glory in even the simplest things, like Lego. The more we praise him for that which is simple, the more our lives overflow with blessing.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.
Dr. David McDonald is the teaching pastor at Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, MI. The church, widely considered among the most innovative in America, has been featured on CNN.com and in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Time Magazine. David weaves deep theological truths with sharp social analysis and peculiar observations on pop culture. He lives in Jackson with his wife, Carmel, and their two kids. Follow him on twitter (@fossores) or online at fossores.com