I have been reading through and thinking about the Beatitudes, the first act of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:3-12) I am always amazed at how Jesus turns common perceptions on their ear. In this first of eight couplets that make up the Beatitudes, Jesus uses language of commerce to teach about the inclusive nature of the people of God.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:3 NIV)
Jesus starts out with “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Being poor is a reference point to wealth, that is, not having enough. We would most naturally say, “Blessed are the wealthy!” We wouldn’t even add “in spirit.” But Jesus flips the sentiment on us and declares those who understand that they cannot add to the dimension of the Spirit available to us are the ones with whom the blessing of the Spirit can most naturally reside. It is from this position of poverty that makes way for the inclusive nature of the people of God, because we can appreciate people for who they are and not what they have or can buy.
Jesus then says, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Kingdoms naturally bring up notions of wealth. Kingdoms are fought over and bought off. Heaven is the one resource that can never be bought or even earned, but due to it’s elusiveness, it is of the upmost value! Jesus affirms that kingdom of heaven belongs to those who understand that there is nothing they can do to acquire it. Kingdoms are comprised of people. People cannot be acquired, only accepted! It is from the place of mutual acceptance that Spirit of God’s love can most freely move.
I pray that as we seek to know Christ more and the love God has for all people, that we too would understand our poverty of spirit and that we love God best when we love others well.
Grace and peace,