Over the last couple of years, I have been irresistibly drawn to meditate on the nature of God and the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus words in the Sermon on the Mount have profoundly resonated with me during this time, capturing my imagination. The opening of this earth-shaking address is simultaneously beautiful, stirring and confronting. Jesus has no problem messing with the religious mindsets of the establishment, taking his message to the people and embracing all of humanity.
The Beatitudes are more than a list of noble-sounding concepts; they have the power to transform us. Jesus is calling us to a way of life, a posture we can assume, and habits we should incorporate until they are second nature. Jesus has a way of communicating great wisdom by integrating paradox. He was and is a radical; challenging our worldly mindsets with thoughts that expose and even oppose our expectations. His words in this passage are a set of attitudes, woven together like the threads of a tapestry. They come together as a magnificent portrait, each one contributing to the whole.
Jesus was thirty years old when he gave his first sermon, and from the outset, He reveals how we can inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus unveiled the secrets of the kingdom; not to the religious elite or the powerful in society, but to those who were hungry for truth, hungry for more of what God offers to those who will seek first His kingdom.
The word “blessed” appears throughout the Beatitudes. The Greek word for blessed is “Makarios”, which may also be translated as “happy”. But there is a depth in these verses to be drawn out. Blessed is more than a good feeling. A blessing is bestowed upon me so that I am being blessed and in turn, am a blessing to others. That blessing comes as a gift, surprising me with its strength and power. Jesus is the embodiment of all the Beatitudes, and they are an invitation to follow, to become part of the family of God.
Jesus begins by commending the poor in spirit. The poor in spirit are those who are dependent on Him. They are people not so caught up in their world that they carve out an existence apart from Him. The idea of letting go of our agendas and becoming dependent is difficult in a society addicted to achievement and success as it defines it. But in the kingdom, it’s as we make ourselves vulnerable to God that Heaven releases experiences and encounters. When we let go and allow God to change the atmosphere, He will manifest His nature around us, in us, and through us.
The older I get, the more I realise that success for me is best measured in relational intimacy rather than in business outcomes and accomplishments. At thirty-five years old I found myself on the board of a major Australian public company, which at one level represented great success. But in the midst of this seeming prosperity, my family was longing for connection that I wasn’t available to give. It wasn’t until I was forty-two that I moved away from the all-consuming corporate life and focussed on achieving a better balance, particularly in relational connectedness with those closest to me. The refocusing of priorities took another ten years of trial and error before I discovered a way of remaining connected and allowing myself to be vulnerable with those around me.
Jesus talked about the Kingdom of Heaven and the cost of obtaining such a prize,
Matthew 13:44–46 (NASB)
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
How do we obtain the Kingdom of Heaven? We become poor in spirit, utterly dependent upon God, just as Jesus was. He had what we have, access to the entirety of Heaven while living entirely as a man. The humanity of Jesus gives the ultimate weight to His words. They are not only life-giving but accessible. We have the same opportunity as Jesus through our intimacy with and dependence upon God.
John 12:49–50 (NASB)
“For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore, the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
A question I ask myself is, what can I learn from the way Jesus related to His Father that can help me become poor in spirit?
In response to Jesus words and the promise he gives to those who will become poor in spirit, my prayer has become that I would lay myself open to Him. I am dependant on the Lord and in my vulnerability, I am wide open for His kingdom to manifest as the prevailing presence in my life.
What’s your response to Jesus invitation?
Adapted from Andee Sellman’s book “Reflections on the Beatitudes”. You can purchase any of the titles from the Land of Seven Rivers Foundational Series in either e-book or paperback format by following the link https://www.landofsevenrivers.org/store.html
Andee Sellman is the founder of Land Of Seven Rivers.
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