Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"The Beatitudes" part 1

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". The words that open the greatest sermon ever preached, the "sermon on the mount". In Matthew chapters five, six, and seven is found this discourse. From the opening statement he turns much of the world's wisdom on its head and shows the true path of happiness, he shows what it means to live in God's Kingdom and he invites us to enter into this way. Many would think, blessed are the wealthy, blessed are the aggressive who get their way but "blessed are the poor in spirit"?  Jesus is telling of a blessedness, or happiness, in life that transcends money, fame, power, health or whatever else that is transient in nature and can change in a "New York minute". What does it look like to be "poor in spirit"? Ultimately the answer to that is for you to wrestle with and pursue just as I do myself, but perhaps I can share with you my own ideas. First I don't think it means to walk around in a sad and morose condition. Jesus himself enjoyed life and people and celebrations, his first miracle was done at a wedding feast. The parable of the prodigal son ends with an extravagant celebration. All through the gospel writings Jesus is interacting with people and it should be this way for us as well. We have every reason to rejoice and live to make a difference.
  There is a sense in which we should have a "poorness of spirit" however, and to emphasize the point even more Jesus uses the strongest possible word for "poor" in this statement. He uses the word "ptochos" which means , begging poor. There is another word he could have used which would convey poorness but would have implied that one still possessed basic necessities. The word Jesus used however means to be a beggar and completely destitute of even the most basic needs of life. It means to be completely dependent on a outside source for needs. And this portrays our position before God, we understand that our true fulfillment in life is going to be found in him. We bring nothing to him that he needs, rather he provides to us and our direction in life is to be guided by him. What Jesus is saying here is rooted in the old testament writings. In Isaiah chapter 66, God speaks of the one to whom he looks to and esteems "But this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word"(Isaiah 66:2). In this passage God is contrasting the "contrite in spirit" with those who "chose their own way, and take delight in their abominations". A way that will only lead to our own ruin and heartache, a way that I have walked before.
  Jesus is telling us about a better way, he is inviting us to come in. Follow him, those who recognize their need is found in God are experiencing the "kingdom of God". The Kingdom is within their hearts and life is being transformed from the inside out. A blessedness is found that cannot be taken away a path in life is walked that is certainly going to lead home.

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