Monday, February 9, 2009

Poor in Spirit


In the middle of Bonhoeffer's book, he goes into a brief running commentary on the "Sermon on the Mount," beginning with the Beattitudes.

Interestingly enough, my pastor just began a series on Matthew 5-7, and I always find it exciting how the LORD works. Don't you find that when He teaches us something, it seems to come from multiple directions (preachers, friends, books, etc.)?
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
-Matthew 5:3

Of this, Bonhoeffer reminds us that the "poor in spirit" are those who, for the sake of Christ, have lost all -- and their poverty is in losing "even their own selves, and everything that could make them rich... And in their poverty they are heirs to the kingdom." It is not physical poverty, but spiritual poverty that brings the blessing -- no amount of piety or spiritual knowledge alone can save. Only those who come to Christ to be their all in all have the hope of the promises of God.

But then he goes on to say something I found amazingly prophetic. In our culture, the true gospel is often replaced with the "social gospel" of Big Brothers and Sisters, building a Habitat for Humanity home, or caring for the AIDS victims in Africa. We should not let the latter go undone, but the true gospel of Jesus Christ must be preached.

It will not do to feed the hungry physically, yet leaves their souls impoverished -- for it is the soul of man that will live forever. Sandwiches must be accompanied by the good seed of the gospel -- God will then get glory in that.
"This beattitude is poles removed from the caricatures of it which appear in political and social manifestos. The Antichrist also calls the poor blessed, but not for the sake of the cross, which embraces all poverty and transforms it into a source of blessing. [The Antichrist] fights the cross with political and social ideology. He may call it Christian, but that only makes him a still more dangerous enemy."

Preaching of sin, righteousness, and judgment will produce poorness of spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit. But God does not leave us there. In this verse is THE gospel -- the good news!

The Apostle Paul, speaking to the believers in Rome, reminds us, who have been granted mercy:
"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
-Romans 5:8

Do you see how God turns our poorness into joy? For in Christ, ours is the kingdom of heaven!

May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

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