For almost 30 years I have been reading My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I suppose it’s a pretty good habit. Now, I don’t always understand or agree with his perspective, but most times he gets me thinking and challenges my way of understanding what it means to follow Jesus. Today he discusses the kingdom of God and this excerpt struck me to the core of my spirit:
The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces a sense of despair in the natural man— exactly what Jesus means for it to do. As long as we have some self-righteous idea that we can carry out our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to continue until we expose our own ignorance by stumbling over some obstacle in our way. Only then are we willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” This is the first principle in the kingdom of God. The underlying foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possessions; not making decisions for Jesus, but having such a sense of absolute futility that we finally admit, “Lord, I cannot even begin to do it.” Then Jesus says, “Blessed are you…” (Matthew 5:11). This is the doorway to the kingdom, and yet it takes us so long to believe that we are actually poor! The knowledge of our own poverty is what brings us to the proper place where Jesus Christ accomplishes His work.
The guys I hang out with have heard me say, “It looks like somebody needs a refresher in the beatitudes.” I say it when one decides to argue for their own selfish agenda instead of the agenda of the kingdom of God. We must consider the gravity of the Apostle Paul’s charge that we, the followers of Christ, are called to live out the ministry of reconciliation. This is not a call for someone to make a “decision for Christ,” but rather for us to walk with the poor incarnationally because we too are poor in spirit and in need of Jesus to heal our soul. The call is to guide the poor to a place where the healing leads to their reconciliation and redemption to God the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we engage the poor, marginalized and brokenhearted people of society our possessions become meaningless to us, and become gifts of love to others.
Let us acknowledge our own poverty so we too might find our place where Christ is alive and well…in the fringes of life.