In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus first proposed eight cardinal virtues that mark and measure a Christian life and ministry. These are called the Beatitudes, and they are not what the unbelieving world typically considers virtuous.
The first is "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:3)."
The Beatitudes promise a later fulfillment to those who have a felt need presently. The worst pop theology promises that Christians can live their best lives now.
No, no, no, no. Are these guys even reading the same Bible as I am? The Bible always promises Christians hardship and persecution for the sake of our Lord. Not health and wealth.
The Great Physician has come to heal us. In order for us to seek his help, we must feel the need. What need have we if we are healthy and happy all the time?
Those of us who are poor in spirit right now are going to inherit the kingdom of heaven, promises Jesus.
The deeply spiritual are often hypocritical. Jesus described the Pharisees of his day as "whitewashed tombs," shiny on the outside but dead on the inside. Frequently, our Lord said people who followed all of the "proper rituals" were getting their rewards "right now." No reward in the future.
Jesus' brother James asks, ". . . has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?" (Jms 2:5). James acknowledges what Jesus taught: those who are poor are blessed with great faith.
And why not? The rich often rely on their wealth to get them through. Take the rich young ruler in Luke as an example. He wouldn't follow Christ because Jesus asked him to renounce his worldly possessions before doing so. By the same token, the spiritual among us rely on their rituals as their righteousness.
The poor in spirit, however, must rely on Christ as their righteousness. They have nothing else to fall back on.
Cory Tucholski is a passionate defender of the Christian faith. He is the husband of one amazing woman and the proud daddy of two fantastic children. Cory runs the apologetics blog Josiah Concept Ministries (http://josiahconcept.org).
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