Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Poor in Spirit

Since the beginning of the month, I've been following a one-year Bible reading plan. I've done it before and have always fallen off track at some point, but it is still a good tool to help me re-establish a habit of reading my Bible every day.

Some days, I have to admit, it's just a matter of reading and checking it off the list. I don't get a lot out of what I read on those days, but it is still helping me instill a habit into my life.

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending conVERGE 2011 with my IMPACT Team. This weekend away also served as our team retreat and a great chance to get to know each other better. As part of the retreat, we spent time each morning doing TAWG (Time Alone With God).

On the first morning I pulled out my reading plan and went to work. One of the passages I read was Matthew 11:4-5. This was Jesus telling some messengers what they should pass along to John the Baptist, who sent them to ask if he was the Messiah. Part of Jesus' response was, "The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor."

I am sure I've read that passage multiple times in my life, but here's the beautiful thing about reading the Bible: this time something new stuck out to me. The last three words, "to the poor" were what gripped me.

Why did Jesus put this clarifying phrase in there? Why didn't He just say, "the good news is preached"? Why was it significant that the poor were hearing the good news?

I stopped reading and began to write down some traits that are often associated with the poor:

They need hope
They need love
They need security
They are willing to listen
They aren't self-reliant
They can find joy in the midst of discomfort
They understand needs vs. wants

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it's a start. It's enough of a list to see a trend: Poor people have real NEEDS.

This was something I found myself unable to identify with. When was the last time I had to go without something I truly NEEDED? I can remember many times when I didn't get everything I wanted but I cannot remember a time when I've not had my NEEDS met. I have been given a richly blessed life.

The next thing I knew I was flipping pages back to Matthew 5 because I knew Jesus said something about the poor in spirit. In fact, the first sentence of the Sermon on the Mount is this, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

I looked back at my journal and the characteristics of poor people I had written down. Then I thought about myself and wondered how I could possibly become poor in spirit. How can I go from a comfortable life where I don't NEED anything, to a desperate life that is clearly in NEED of a savior?

I don't know.

Got any ideas?

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