September 3, 2009

The Beatitudes Part 2

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)

The consensus of our class last Sunday was that "poor in spirit" was another way of talking about humility. This could be a humility that realizes one's need and dependency on God for everything, including admittance into His kingdom but it could also be a humility that forces us to look outside ourselves and be willing to serve others. Or maybe both? It does seem that in order to experience the "kingdom of heaven" I must come to the conclusion that life is not about me.

Or maybe I'm missing it altogether and Jesus is simply saying that despite how incredibly lacking my spirit is, God demonstrates His mercy, love, forgiveness, grace, etc. by allowing me, even me, the chance to enter into His kingdom.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)

Two thoughts emerged around this verse, one being that when we realize our dependency on God because of our sinful nature we begin to mourn over the sin in our lives. The other had more to do with the idea that God was going to make things fair (as best as we can understand "fair") for those who's lives have not been. Another way of saying this might be to say that those who have been struggling to get by, to make ends meet, you have felt alone, abandoned and abused their whole lives will find comfort from the One who called the Prince of Peace.

Any thoughts, questions or comments you have on either of these two Beatitudes? Feel free to share them with us.


Ben Simpson said...

Check out Dallas Willard's commentary on this verse in his book The Divine Conspiracy, particularly in chapter 4, beginning on page 99 and following. A full reading is needed to do Willard justice, but among the many things he says about the Beatitudes, he remarks:

"No one is actually being told that they are better off for being poor, for mourning, for being persecuted, and so on, or that the conditions listed are recommended ways to well-being before God or man. Nor are the Beatitudes indications of who will be on top "after the revolution." They are explanations and illustrations, drawn from the immediate setting, of the present availability of the kingdom through personal relationship with Jesus. They single out cases that provide proof that, in him, the rule of God from the heavens truly is available in life circumstances that are beyond all human hope."

Matt Lipan said...

Ben Simpson: thanks for the read and comment.

i've heard so many good things about this book, actually have it sitting on my shelf in my office and have not read it yet.

i really like the part where he mentions, "the rule of God from the heavens truly is available in life circumstances that are beyond all human hope."

i will clearly need to be spending some time with this book as we continue our study through the Beatitudes. thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Ben Simpson said...

If you're teaching the Beatitudes, the entire book could be a good resource. The heart of Willard's project is to outline Jesus' vision for spiritual transformation, and his work centers specifically on the Sermon on the Mount. DIvine Conspiracy is one of the most important books I have read in the last five years. I hope you enjoy it!