What is our destiny and purpose in life? How do we fit into the ultimate order of God’s redeemed creation? If we know the answers to these questions, we will find great joy and excitement in life. The answers lie in one concept, which is the subject of my latest book, Mutual Blessing.1 Mutual blessing was the foundation of God’s order of creation. We managed to damage that foundation, but God’s brilliant plan in redeeming Creation is to fully restore it.
Mutual blessing is the essence of marriage. Yet my dear wife Patty and I almost discovered it too late. Though God intended marriage to be a relationship of the most profound mutual blessing, our first year was very difficult. We were both self-centered. I thought Patty existed to bless me, but I didn’t realize that I was also to equally bless her. We were rapidly heading for destruction. Fortunately we realized this and were delivered through deep repentance. However, that self-centered root again had to be addressed when our first child was born. We needed to recalibrate our relationship as mother and father. By the grace of God, we have entered into a relationship of the most profound love, respect and mutual blessing – especially in recent years. But it was not easy.
God’s Everlasting Life is a Life of Mutual Blessing
My thesis begins with the reality of God’s own life. God eternally lives in a context of mutual blessing and interdependence in tri-unity as Father, Son and Spirit. Shared love, giving and receiving are central to the essence of God. This is why the solely singular idea of God found in some forms of Judaism is lacking. God was never eternally alone, but was always God in plurality – in mutual blessing. The word blessing means enrichment. Mutual interdependence for mutual enrichment flows from the nature of God Himself.
The Genesis Record
The early chapters of Genesis are foundational to all theology. They provide the key to God’s ultimate purpose for creation in its eternal future. God creates the universe. At the completion of each creation day, God declares:
“It is good!”
God’s enjoyment and fulfillment are dependent on what He creates. Of course the things created on any particular day are, naturally, dependent on God for their very existence.
God created amazing variety – speaking into existence all kinds of plants and animals. They are dependent on God for their existence, but are also dependent on one another. Animal life is dependent on plants. Plant life is also dependent on animals. This mutual interdependence is an example of mutual blessing. Bees pollinate plant flowers which in turn produce fruit, which in turn brings the blessing of food to animals. The whole earth is dependent upon the sun for warmth, light and energy. This mutual blessing “circle of life” in nature is called “ecosystems” and “symbiotic” relationships. Symbiosis means different types of organisms living together and benefiting from each other.
The Creation of Adam in Mutual Blessing
Last of all, on the sixth day, Adam is created. He alone is created in God’s image – to represent God on the earth as His vice regent. The image of God includes all the capacities – moral, intellectual, emotional and creative – that will enable him to rule wisely. Adam is dependent on the rest of creation for his sustenance. It will bring him great blessing if he manages his garden and his planet well. This is paradise. Furthermore, the garden is dependent on Adam to bring forth many of its greatest gifts. For example a tree is healthiest when well-pruned by man.
God Himself is blessed by fellowship with man whom He created, and man is – to say the least – dependent on God for his blessing.
Mutual Blessing through the Male-Female Distinction
Adam does not have an adequate partner. He seeks fellowship with another created being. Only the creation of Eve brings the potential of blessing for Adam’s highest fulfillment. She is the only creature on earth who can truly share in his role of ruling creation wisely in submitted partnership to the Creator. Adam’s words seem to burst forth with excitement and wonder when he sees the creature God set before him:
“Wow! This time You have really outdone Yourself. This one is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.”
Adam and Eve are obviously in a relationship of interdependence for mutual blessing. Children are born through the blessing of love and sexuality, a very special kind of mutual interdependence. This passage puts forth an ideal of monogamous marriage and is reaffirmed as such in the teaching of Yeshua.
Mutual Blessing through Different Gifts and Callings
In the New Covenant Scriptures, gifts, callings, elders and equipping are to function in wonderful interdependence for the mutual blessing of all (1 Corinthians 12-14; 1 Timothy 3; Ephesians 4:11). Even civil government is charged to bring blessing to the larger society in Romans 12. We can go on and on speaking of parents and children, varieties of peoples for mutual blessing, etc. The distinction of Israel and the other nations is also designed for mutual blessing!
The Glory of Mutual Blessing in the Age to Come
Revelation 21 and 22 give us a symbolic picture of the age to come, with the river of life and the trees of life for the healing of the nations. It is a paradise that surpasses Eden. It has great variety. Each nation brings their own distinct honor into the New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven, joining heaven and earth. The most important feature of the New Creation order is that God dwells with His people. That dwelling with is made manifest in the most wonderful way in the incarnation of Yeshua, who truly joins God and man together. His death and resurrection provide the means for entering into a realm of unending mutual blessing. John’s term for this realm is eternal life!
1 I was inspired to write this book after reading R. Kendall Soulen’s great book The God of Israel and Christian Theology. I do not know of another presently available book that deals with this topic.