Saturday, November 28, 2015

Blog about the Sermon on the Mount? Whaaaaat? ME? -

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,
 and he began to teach them, saying:

"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 sons of God. 
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you..."

And Jesus, God Incarnate, the Living Word by whom the Universe came into being and still holds together, sits among the throng and continues to lay out foundational principles for godly living one perfect cosmic precept upon another for another page or so in fine print. No wonder the hungry followed Him. No wonder the people worshiped Him. No wonder the religious power brokers hated Him. No wonder the sinners loved Him. That is where He started, with the sinners: "
Blessed are the poor in spirit"...

Looking at the Greek Lexicon & Concordance afforded me instantly in this internet age, I wondered and asked Him what He meant by *poor*.


[From ptosso {to crouch, akin to πτοέω (G4422)and the alternate of πίπτω (G4098))]
  1. reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms
  2. destitute of wealth, influence, position, honour
    1. lowly, afflicted, destitute of the Christian virtues and eternal riches
    2. helpless, powerless to accomplish an end
    3. poor, needy
  3. lacking in anything
    1. as respects their spirit
      1. destitute of wealth of learning and intellectual culture which the schools afford (men of this class most readily give themselves up to Christ's teaching and proved them selves fitted to lay hold of the heavenly treasure)

I looked at the Greek in the concordance and what I discern from it is this-  "Poor In Spirit"  in this usage means lowly in demeanor before God & men.  It does not mean *lacking faith in Christ* which is the path of eternal salvation and the greatest spiritual wealth, the only lasting possession in all the universe. It means knowing that I know that *Jesus is the Christ* is only a light by which I can see my true destitution.  There is this adorable video on the web of a toddler trying to hula hoop like his big sister. The tot stands gleefully shimmying back and forth until he is exhausted with the effort-- while the hula hoop lays on the floor at his feet. His gaze was transfixed the whole time on his adoring father and the child was sure he has accomplished just the same glorious hula hoop exploits as his sister.

ALL my spiritual posturing will never keep my spiritual hula hoop off the floor.  I want to be like Jesus!! I want to love even the unlovely as He loved, walk on water in faith, lay down my life for the Father's will, but my spiritual hula hoop lays at my feet. Only God's righteousness put on me like a garment, as a gift from the Father for acknowledging my poverty and need for the atonement of Christ can change anything about my poverty. All my obedience to excruciating details of religious observances in piety and devotion are filthy rags IF NOT offered in humility of my abject poverty.  I have to KNOW that all my rightness is still imperfect, wrong and worthless unless it starts from abasing myself before the cross. I have to look at myself and see that I do not measure up. I have to acknowledge the gravity of my sin and self are the reason I cannot get that hula hoop in the air.
ALL MY *KNOWING* I AM RIGHT ON THIS ISSUE AND THAT GOD THINKS AS I DO is the exact opposite of spiritual poverty.  Yes, the CAPS are necessary to make my point. My spiritual posturing is a problem.  My spiritual posturing is *the* original problem.

It is not that I am not supposed to have an opinion, nor be certain of it. I am not supposed to be a doormat or wallflower for Jesus. That is not it either.  I am just supposed to know that God is righteous and I am not.  In myself I am not.  My motivations are always tainted with self-interest, not the least of which is smug holier than thou self-righteousness-- that is *in and of myself*-- but praise be to God, I am not my own.  The truth of what Paul described is so precious: 

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord."
I am supposed to be ever conscious and vigilant of the nature of self and it's propensity to make itself equal with God- *knowing* what is right or wrong in someone else's life, but not attending to my own spiritual housekeeping with the same ardor in true humility and affection for the heart of God. It is always the way of a Pharisee to know the All The Rules and keep track of who is keeping them, rather than subjecting oneself in humility to be made new in the likeness of God.