“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3 ESV
Blessed (or translated differently: Happy) are those who are poor in Spirit? Because they will be citizens of heaven and therefore will enter heaven? Hold up! Why do these people enter heaven? What about the wealthy in spirit, the confident, those who are able to deal with the day-to-day activities and even find success in life? Why does Jesus mention the poor in spirit and why is it that they get into heaven?
One story to help us understand this is found in Luke 18:9-14: The Pharisee and the Sinner. One man boasted to God about all the good he was doing in the world and looked down on others because of it. This man, Jesus would have said, was wealthy in spirit. He had everything he needed. Honestly, if you were to take God out of the picture, from the outside this man had it all together and most likely possibly nothing would have changed. The wealthy in spirit might seem like they have everything altogether but their hearts are far from the God who loves them.
But the sinner “standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner…went down to his house justified.” (Luke 18:13-14). The sinner was ‘poor in spirit’. He knew he had nothing to make up for what he was lacking in the eyes of God. He knew his need. He knew he wasn’t right with God and he came to the deep realization, there was nothing he could do to change his position in life. There wasn’t enough time, nor enough energy nor enough things he could acquire to rightly change his position with God. Therefore, he ashamedly stands ‘far off’ so ashamed he can’t ‘even lift his eyes to heaven’ and with a physical response calls out for mercy.
We are Christ followers (if you are) because we recognize our need for someone to make up for what we lack. We’re not in perfect standing to stand before a perfect God. We needed someone to stand in for us! We desire to be a place where anyone is able to come to worship and ask for mercy. But usually the only ones who desire to come are the poor in spirit. Some people think, to go to church, you need to be all ‘cleaned up’ and perfect to be able to attend.
I vehemently disagree. If you want to be a citizen of heaven and be a part of God’s kingdom, we all claim and cling to this one thing, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner”. And because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross, God is true and faithful to be merciful to us and bring us into His family! Therefore, we invite everyone, giving all the opportunity to be poor in spirit standing before a God who accepts them fully because of the work of Jesus on the cross!
Parkland Community Church:
We Exist to Develop People Who Love Jesus and Serve Others.