By Karen Lowe
Clergy Care Associate
They say there are no stupid questions.
I knew that saying when my youth pastor asked me, but I have to confess I still thought his question was stupid when I first heard it: “If the Bible said the sky was red would you believe it?” The trouble was that the question just didn’t make sense. Why would the Bible ask me to believe something that wasn’t true? My youth pastor just left me with the question without trying to answer the questions that I had. I went on my way with my thoughts.
I found my answer in the Beatitudes. They don’t make the claim that the sky is red, of course, but the economy of blessing that they put forward is just as radical. Could I really believe that those who are poor in spirit are blessed? I could, I did and I still do. God used the question that had seemed so inane to awaken in me a deeper realization. To follow him I needed to allow him to dismantle my own understanding of how the world works so that I could gain the knowledge of how he intends his world to work. But what does it mean to be poor in spirit? Why would they inherit the Kingdom? Shouldn’t the Kingdom be entrusted to people who have it a little more figured out?
What does “poor in spirit” bring to your mind? Perhaps you think about a certain group of people who would fit the bill. Maybe, though, the first Beatitude is less description and more invitation. Jesus isn’t describing a certain group of people who will inherit the Kingdom by their circumstances, instead he is inviting every person in every circumstance into a relationship where they find their true identity in him as a citizen of his Kingdom. This is good news to every person. We all have equal access to becoming an heir in God’s Kingdom. The only stipulation is that we have to recognize and live from the realization that everything we have and everything we are is from God.
It is in this recognition and confession that those who have experienced physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual poverty are given the advantage. They live free of the illusion that they are self-made people who have only their own ability and skills to thank for their success in life. In Jesus’ economy, the greatest currency is the humility of a person’s spirit. Are we aware, by nature of our humanity, that we are creatures with limits? That we are born into certain situations with privilege or disadvantage and it wasn’t our merit that determined between the two? It is when we can stand vulnerably but confidently before him that we can experience redemption, freedom, wholeness, healing, and all that the Kingdom offers.