Monday, July 21, 2008

Happy Though Needy

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5.3

Spiritual Poverty

Genesis tells us that God breathed His own life into us and we became living beings. We call His life in us “spirit”—our direct connection to God’s divine nature. Our spirit expresses His presence in the world. It flows with His passions. It embodies His love. And above all else, it yearns to do His will.

Matters of heart and mind—what we feel and think—stand apart from spiritual concerns. Yet they habitually compromise our spirit’s health and prosperity. Distress breeds doubt. Pride brings presumption. Rejection bears resistance. And so on. These conflicts result in spiritual weakness and depletion. Our spirits would thrive if we could fix things so hurt and harm never knocked on our doors. But we can’t. Consequently, we sometimes find we’re poor in spirit.

Out of Sight

People may sneer at our confidence in God’s acceptance. They may question our rights to follow Christ. They may revile our determination to please our Maker by embracing our sexual orientation. These and countless other challenges tax our spirit to the limit.

These are surface issues, based on how others view us. They look real, but they’re not. Our reality lives inside, safely out of sight, protected from public scrutiny. When life seems to suck the life out of us, we stop focusing on our thoughts and emotions. We start trusting what we know. And we know in our spirit that we possess the kingdom of heaven.

Humility Boosts

Controversies about who can or can’t follow Jesus basically boil down to personality conflicts over status. Understandably, if unfortunately, Christians who ostracize fellow believers are driven by a need to claim superior rank in God’s kingdom. This attitude didn’t sit well with Jesus. Taking a young child in His arms, He said:

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18.4)

When others demean us, they contribute to our success by keeping us humble. They remind us that we’re powerless on our own, that our best defense is no defense. Humility boosts our spirits. It elevates our place in God’s kingdom. That’s why we can weather every imaginable adversity. That’s why we can remain happy though needy.

Interesting "man in the street" interviewer asks random people what they think this Beatitude means...

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