Our lives are guided by what is and is not acceptable behavior. These cultural norms are the standards we live by. They are the shared expectations that guide the behavior of people within social groups. How you interact with a co-worker of the opposite sex is different from how you interact with your spouse, or at least it should be. Americans view eye contact during conversation as polite and appropriate whereas in some cultures eye contact is seen as disrespectful and inappropriate.
In the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew chapters 5-7, Jesus lays out what is expected of those who follow Him; the recipe for Christian behavior. At the beginning of this discourse, Jesus offers eight blessings, known as the Beatitudes. Each blessing contains both a condition and a result.
The theological concept of being blessed goes back to the beginning. God created us to be blessed, to be the recipients of His favor and steadfast love, and to live in that attitude as we participate in the care and cultivation of His creation. We know from the creation story that after God created mankind in His own image, He blessed them. (see Gen. 1:27-28) But in the Fall, mankind forfeited this blessing. The storyline of redemption involves the re-establishment of God’s blessing upon those who put their faith in Him, through His son Jesus.
Let’s look at the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 5:3
We believe that being “poor in spirit” is a fundamental condition for being a follower of Jesus. Those who are poor in terms of material wealth are deeply aware of what they are lacking. Poor people know they are poor. Similarly, those who are truly poor in spirit are aware of what they are lacking spiritually. The poor in spirit are aware of their utter need for God. And once we are aware, and acknowledge our need for God, we are willing to open ourselves up to Him.
The “kingdom of heaven” means God’s sovereignty; or in other words, His reign and rule on earth. So, the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit. It is they who enjoy Messiah’s reign and His blessings when they accept His rule and participate in the life of the kingdom.
We need to admit that it is more of God we need, not more of us. We need to empty our cup filled with us and re-fill it with God. Robyn recently put it like this – “We must continually empty ourselves, of ourselves, in order to be filled with God.”
So we ask you – Who (or what) is your cup filled with?
New Bern, North Carolina