Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Where is the Kingdom of Heaven?
Is it among the nations of the earth? Can we drive there? Is there a bridge to it? Where is a map of it?
Kristi and I drove a lot over the past month. We drove through the plains. We drove through the forest. We drove in the hills and into the mountains. We saw a tremendous amount of God’s good creation, but we didn’t see a sign indicating that we had entered the Kingdom of Heaven.
The kind of kingdom Jesus speaks about in the Sermon on the Mount isn’t the kind of kingdom we’ll hear about on the news, or read about in the paper. It’s not a kingdom with borders. It’s not the kind of kingdom that competes with other nations for territory or power.
Jesus’ opening words in his sermon indicate the Kingdom of Heaven is a different kind of kingdom. Those who are citizens of God’s Kingdom are “poor in spirit.”
Obviously, God hasn’t read the recent self-help titles at the book store. A trip through Barnes and Noble would indicate that we have an insatiable appetite for power, wealth, and pleasure. We’re not interested in poverty, but prosperity. We want to be enriched, not impoverished. We want more, not less. We want satisfaction, not contentment.
The world rewards the powerful. Fame and fortune are what seem to make people happy. But the happiness thew world offers is a façade, a thin veneer that erodes in time. The blessings of the kingdoms of this world are fleeting.
But in the Kingdom of Heaven, the poor in spirit are blessed.
A great reversal from our way of thinking.
But then again, God’s ways are not our way. Nor or our thoughts like his thoughts.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
The Kingdom of Heaven is populated with people who have declared bankruptcy! Spiritual bankruptcy, that is.
The Kingdom of Heaven is where those who have become dissatisfied with the ways of the world take refuge. The Kingdom of Heaven is where the anemic soul finds nourishment. The Kingdom of Heaven is the home of the humble.
The Greek word for “blessed” can also be translated as happy. There is a practice that leads to happy living in the Kingdom of Heaven: Prayer.
Prayer that expresses gratitude toward God makes the heart happy. The poor in spirit recognize readily how richly God has favored them and blessed them and provided for them. Our God is rich in every way and he shares his goodness abundantly with his children.
Prayer that confesses our need for God maintains our happiness in God. When we confess, we are not merely reminding God about the areas we’ve fallen, we are reminding ourselves that we have a savior. Jesus died for our sins, but he rose victoriously from the grave to overcome the consequences of our sin. God provides us a way to deal with our sin in Christ. This world teaches us to hide, or to excuse, or to justify our sin. God tells us to come to him, to confess our sin, and be forgiven. In being forgiven, we are changed. Happy is the citizen of Heaven who has come away from his sin!
Prayer builds a happy trust in the King of the Kingdom of Heaven. As we bow, and acknowledge God’s authority over our lives, we place our lives in his hands. We say with our savior, “Not my will, but thine be done.” An old hymn states it well, “For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” Obedience is the result of trust. We can’t make sense of God’s plan. We can’t fathom all that he is doing or desires to do. But we can trust. We can muster the trust to obey, even when cannot see the path beyond our arm’s reach. In the Kingdom of Heaven, we live happily, and blessed lives, as we prayerfully make God king of our hearts, day after day.
So where is the Kingdom of God? It’s wherever we worship God as King. It’s where people have wisdom enough to honor and adore him. The Kingdom of Heaven where God’s authority is acknowledged.
The Kingdom of Heaven is wherever people make their first allegiance to God as King, Jesus as Savior and the Holy Spirit as their sustainer. We experience a little bit of Heaven on Earth as we relate to the King of Kings during the little period of time we are given on this planet. We witness to the goodness of our God as we seek to share his blessings with those who have not yet found their way into the kingdom he offers.
In our poverty, we
In our falling, we have
Found your resurrection.
Through your grace, we are saved.
Blessed are the souls who
Call your Kingdom their home.