Random Blog Clay Feet: September 22, 2008
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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Poor in Spirit Advantage

As I was showering this morning my thoughts wandered to my feelings of isolation that part of me has felt for pretty much all of my life. I remembered the feelings that sometimes cause me to try to connect with people emotionally so quickly that typically they withdraw in alarm which only adds to the weight of “evidence” used against me by those who want to judge me as an imbalanced and untrustworthy man.

As I was contemplating this pattern that seems to be a mark of my life, the words of Jesus suddenly popped into my head, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3) In the context of what I was feeling and thinking about, these words suddenly took on a whole new dimension that I had never been able to perceive before.

I thought about my own inability to form deep relationships compared to others that I have either observed or heard about who seemed to have satisfying soul-mates, those with whom they could bare their hearts without fear of being judged or misunderstood. It seems that every time I have tried to do something like that that sooner of later the result was some sort of betrayal. It was almost like I was destined to live under the influence of the Miranda warning, “everything you say can and will be used against you...”

But the more I thought about this the more I realized how much this just might be a genuine blessing in disguise, except for the first time I was getting a peek behind the disguise. I sensed that maybe it is actually a handicap for a person to have wonderful friends who care about them deeply, people in one's life who seem to be able to connect in some way to deep needs. Because the deepest cravings of the heart can simply never be satisfied by any mere human and to the degree that I believe they can bring lasting satisfaction is the same degree that I will not be hungry for the companionship and intimacy of my Savior.

In reality all of us are poor spiritually. But what I am starting to see is that Jesus was touching a deep sore spot in the hearts of anyone who was not blinded by the counterfeits offered by the alternative system invented by Satan. When a person is keenly aware and conscious that nothing is really meeting their hunger, that no one is coming close to fulfilling their deepest cravings for intimacy and deep fellowship and trust – that person is actually in a position of great advantage from heaven's perspective. And while they may not yet know that their condition is an advantage or even yet know that God is the one who is ready and eager to fulfill those deepest cravings of the heart, Jesus' words are clarifying reality, and He states unequivocally that these people are really the one's who are more fortunate.

One of the greatest hindrances to living a life of freedom for an addict is the intense feelings of temporary satisfaction they get from indulging in their drug of choice. While they intellectually may acknowledge that their real needs are not being met by the substance or activity that gives them such a rush, the attraction of feeling relief from their inner cravings even for a few seconds can be overwhelming and is their greatest hindrance to staying clean long enough to return to a “normal” life where they can learn to find more legitimate means of addressing their deep longings.

Maybe Jesus is talking to people here who are not living in denial or depending on a counterfeit fix to meet their deepest longings and numb their pain. While their lives may appear to be quite messed up by others who look down on them, these people are keenly aware of their poverty of spirit and they are longing for an intimacy at the spirit level that nothing has come close to satisfying yet. Jesus wants them to know that, far from being a curse or a terrible liability, their poverty of spirit is their greatest asset because it is a powerful motivation to come to Him and find the peace and joy that their heart is craving the most.

Those who know they are hungry and also know that nothing they have yet tasted addresses that hunger are the most likely to recognize the perfect object of their desires when they come to really perceive it. Those are the ones who are keen to be skeptical of every imitation and sometimes have a sharper awareness when a relationship or activity is not addressing or relieving their sense of emptiness. They are actually much closer to being willing to embrace the real riches found in the true kingdom being set up by Jesus than those who are still bottom-feeding in the illusions promoted by typical religion or humanism or any other counterfeit system promoted by this world. It is the poor in spirit who's very awareness of their poverty are the most ready and eager to latch on to real riches and cling to them with a tenacity stronger than the desire for life itself.

Some people who are not yet aware that they are actually poor in spirit are like those described in Revelation 3. You say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked... (Revelation 3:17)

As I thought about these things my heart began to warm. I realized that these words that had been brought to my mind were something of a compliment, an assurance by Jesus that, far from viewing my situation as a terrible curse I should see it from heaven's perspective.

Being poor in spirit should cause me to sharpen my focus on finding what really satisfies.

Being poor in spirit means more quickly turning away from cheap imitations that fail to bond me to other hearts with the proper adhesive.

Being poor in spirit, according to Jesus, is to be part of a group of people who are actually the citizens of the kingdom that will supersede all the kingdoms and political powers of this world.

Does that mean that I should relax and embrace my poverty of spirit and deep relationships with others? Somehow I don't think so. But while I still seek to discover points of connection with others who are also poor and starving in spirit under the guidance of my heart by the Spirit of God who is carefully knitting together the various elements of the body of Christ, I do not have to feel that my poverty is something to be ashamed of or despised. Being poor in counterfeit relationships, being poor in addictive substitutes is not a bad position to be in.

I must learn to see my poverty of spirit as the motivational engine that propels me toward living in openness and honesty with others, with myself and most of all with God. I must learn to focus my feelings of emptiness on narrowing my attentions and affections to that which really brings faith, hope and love into my life and exclude everything which only distracts or confuses me. I need to avoid more and more the things which neutralize or numb my awareness of my real poverty of spirit and instead fill my mind more and more with a true awareness of what is really valuable, what has eternal value and what will genuinely satisfy my heart and make me truly wealthy in my soul.