Sometimes in our lives we put so much energy and time to chase happiness. Jesus came and began to reveal the nature of the kingdom of God. He began with what is often called the Sermon on the Mount and with that short list of drastic, controversial, surprise statements that are known as the beatitudes. We can review them in Matthew 5:1-10, “Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
For the people who started to believe that this might be the Messiah, what they were hoping, what they anticipated was that God will come and set up His Kingdom here on earth and all pain and all hardships and the enemies will be vanquished, all these will be removed from their lives, as they begin to encounter in person the living God. When Jesus begins to teach here, He establishes right from the beginning that this is what I have in mind for you, this is what will define you the people who follow me. The people were not expecting this.
One Bible scholar describes the phrase “Blessed are” as “Oh, the absolute complete happiness of those who”. Oh, the absolute complete happiness that consumes the person who has become mourner, who has become persecuted, who has become meek. What’s interesting about these statements is that Jesus doesn’t give us an out, He doesn’t give us an exit here. He doesn’t say that ‘there will be some of you’- some of you who live in the eastern part of the world who will be persecuted. He doesn’t give an exit here, He is not saying some of you, He is calling His followers to become these types of people. These are not the statements for something which will occasionally happen, so you will have a moment of happiness in return. Instead, He is saying this is the person who follows me, this is the person who walks in happiness, this is the person who experiences what they crave- completeness and satisfaction.
All of us are looking for happiness. Jesus tells us in the very beginning of His revealing of the Kingdom of God is that we spend so much time trying to fill a place into the part of us with happiness, with the material things of this world, the things around us that is tangible- acquiring the next thing, achieving the next position, having the relationship with that next person. These are the things which we really think are satisfying, we find ourselves in this cycle of pursuit, we still yearn. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you fall into or what size house you are living in, it doesn’t matter what position we hold or what our income level is, there is a part of our being that is unfulfilled and all we try to do is to fill it with the happiness that this world gives us.
Jesus is talking about a different dimension. He is speaking of a different place inside you and me, a different part of humanity that if we give attention to this part, we will walk in a happiness that all of us crave and it will be lasting, it will be sustained. By becoming this kind of person, you become happy. You don’t experience happiness, you become happy. He is talking about the spirit.
“Blessed are those who are poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This is staggering that this Rabbi who is claiming to be from God and to be God in the flesh, begins His revelation of the kingdom coming to redeem and remake broken earth and broken mankind by saying- blessed are the poor. This is not what people were expecting Jesus to say, they would have been expecting Jesus to say- no more sickness, no more financial struggle, etc. Jesus was speaking to different classes of people- both rich and poor. He calls all of us and in His calling, He reveals that every person is poor. In the spiritual part of mankind, we are all broken and bankrupt, we are that extremely poor person. He is calling us to give attention to this aspect of our being where if we don’t fill our spirit with what enriches life and purpose then nothing what we have materially will ever amount anything that lasts or matters. In the beginning of the sermon of the mount, Jesus is calling people to recognize what we all have in common-the poverty of spirit, the bankruptcy, the personal bankruptcy of soul. Jesus is calling us to totally understand our spiritual emptiness. We all face emptiness in our lives, there are things which happen in our lives which makes us empty, things like failure, it maybe rejection of some type, it may be the overwhelming stress of parenting. There are these moments and circumstances that God allows, where we taste, and we breathe again in this poverty. And the problem is that we tend to fill that emptiness, that void, that hurt, that need, that fear, that loneliness with the tangible things of this world, and they never can fill the spirit.
Jesus is calling us to accept our condition of spiritual emptiness. God doesn’t want you to turn to this world to fill that void for just a little while, He wants us to find the riches of His Kingdom by making Him the center.
In this situation of your spiritual poverty, the first thing you need to do is to humble yourselves before God. Humbling yourselves or humility is not like acting humble, but humility is being honest before God. Trust God and come to Him humbly with your emptiness, with your loneliness, with your fear. We are poor without Him, we are poor without Him filling us.
Next thing, when you feel stressed, when you feel despair, when you feel lonely or afraid or whatever that moment of obvious poverty for you in spirit, get away and get alone with God. And finally, when you are alone, talk with Jesus and tell Jesus that you know that you are made for Him, begin to describe what you know in your spirit is true that your definition, your completeness comes from Him.
When you feel these moments of poverty in your spirit, get alone with God, don’t try to do a quick fix before you go. Get away with God and then direct your conversation to Jesus and tell Him that you know that you are made for Him and only He will complete you.
What is that thing that you need to let go or what is that thing that you need to admit or what is that thing that you need to stop chasing, so you can make room for Jesus to come in and complete you?