I was talking with some friends a few days ago about the idea a individuals being blessed, or someone personally receiving God's grace as a gift solely intended for that person. It is an unwelcome idea that there is a God who acts in day-to-day activities, bestowing blessings on nice middle-class westerners, but overlooking those poor Nicaraguan papists or Haitian pagans.
Did slave owners believe they were blessed by God when they reaped profits from the slave economy. Do American fundamentalists believe they are blessed because they believe in a six-day creation epic and others might be cast into a fiery Hell because of their faith in science.
I think that God has blessed the whole world, and that the distribution of Grace has been once-and-for-all event, through the fulfillment of covenant in the life of Jesus. However, just as YHWH had hoped to bless the nations through Israel, and just as Jesus called together groups of followers to usher in the realm of God, so God has chosen the Body of Christ as the corporate vehicle for the dissemination of God's blessings and grace. According to my account, the biggest obstacle standing in the way of the every nation being blessed, and every person experiencing God's loving grace, is the Church! It is the fault of the Western world that God's blessing and grace has been hoarded and manipulated and defended militarily at the expense of the poor and oppressed. Salvation comes not through some magic incantation memorized from Romans (10:9-10), but through the work of the Church.
Am I suggesting that there is no salvation outside of the Church? No, I am suggesting that as long as the Church remains patently unfaithful to the example of Christ, the world cannot know an alternative to violence through which to experience, or share, blessing and grace. Even those preaching peace politically or ecumenically, can not do so truthfully unless they do so from a position of powerlessness. Political power does not bring salvation, any more than war is a means to justice. Only through the non-coercive work of a community of faith can God's love be truly reflected. Upon the world's recognition of such a loving response to fear and injustice, Salvation becomes not an idea, but a hope for everyone who chooses to participate, regardless of the path they choose.
It is through community that blessings are known, because blessings are the product of relationship. Not only with God, but between Friends, and especially with enemies. People know love and become whole, not because God has decided to bless them over another. People know love and wholeness because they experience it through relationship with others.