Disciples are poor.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3 ESV)

Ok, like any good piece of scripture, this one causes more question than I think it answers on the surface. Is this a blessing given to people who are already poor in spirit, because they've had to deal with such a hardship they are given the gift of the kingdom? Or maybe it's a suggestion to all of us that if we have intentions on entering the kingdom of heaven we need to become poor in spirit? What exactly does it mean to be poor in spirit? What does the kingdom of heaven look like? Is it a real place, or more of a state of being? Why is such a thing worthy of being "blessed?" And for that matter, what is a blessing?

I don't know if I could give an easy answer for what it means to be poor in spirit. For that you're going to have to pick up your friendly neighborhood commentary or bible study software. But as someone who's been following Jesus for an extended period of time, I know that I have been poor in spirit, and I know what it feels like.

Even explaining the feeling associated with being poor in spirit is difficult. I try to imagine sometimes that my life has a little dashboard associated with it, and there are all kinds of gages on it. One gage tracks how much physical energy I have left in the tank, and when it's out I need to nap. Another tracks how much emotional energy I have, and when it's out I need to clear my mind and try to get some of the negative thoughts out in a healthy manner. And there's this other gage, and when it's empty, I know that I'm feeling far away from God. When this gage nears the proverbial "E", I am poor in spirit.

Can I get an "amen?"

Now here's some killer irony. I know for a certain fact that anyone who has followed Jesus with any kind of regularity or intensity has felt this. We all go through peaks and valleys in our faith. We all find times where we're surrounded by darkness, feeling separated from God. And in truth, if you can take a moment to look back to the valley when you've come out on the other side, you realize that you do an incredible amount of growing in the valley. You become the person God meant for you to be in the valley. And yet, one thing that the secular world seems to think about us is that we are a collective people who have it all together.

The image we send to the world is one that says getting off the mountain is wrong.

And yet here in the opening line of Jesus' masterpiece sermon, he tells us that we're blessed in times of distance from God. We're blessed when we're poor in spirit. By no means am I a great theologian, but I think the point behind this is that we need to admit our separation from God (read: sin) in order to be set free from it (read: allowed into the kingdom) by Christ. We need to actually admit our need for a savior in order to be saved. So why are we afraid of this? Why do we need to look like we have it all together?

Take a look at the original disciples. They didn't have it all together. In fact, by all accounts they barely had anything together! And yet these 12 guys in spite of their flaws were given the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and given the responsibility to usher as many other people into it as they could. The truth is, without these messed up burnt out nobodies, you and I wouldn't have a faith to speak of.

So let's be honest. Let's let the guard down for a little while. Let's admit that we are in fact poor in spirit from time to time. Let's open up the door for the Savior and then actually have the courage to let him in and have a look around. And let's open ourselves up to all the blessings that come with that.

Tomorrow: Disciples are sad.




Anonymous said...

We are so thankful for your post because it mirrors our life today. We are opening ourselves up to the blessings that come next. Yours in prayer.