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He’s Gonna Score

September 20, 2011

We’re two games into my son’s first season of soccer.  As you can imagine, the competition level that exists between a bunch of three and four year olds falls somewhere between…there’s the ball…and when do we get a snack?  Intensity does not really factor into our standard of what makes for a successful game or season.  If we all survive…that’s a win.  Mostly, we spend a lot of time pointing in the direction of our net (it’s the one with the kangaroo tied to the top of the goal) in hopes that they might somehow kick it in there.

 Take a moment today and read through Matthew 5:1-12.  We’ll be working through this passage for the next few weeks.

 One of the things that we see in the beatitudes is Jesus constantly affirming a position that the world finds repulsive…a position that absolutely flies in the face of modern sociological norms.  So when Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” He’s encouraging a position that is the polar opposite of our natural disposition.  He’s encouraging, in fact commanding, a position that our hearts…simply by nature…rebel against.

 Seriously…when, in your life, outside of church, have you been encouraged to be poor in spirit?  It just doesn’t happen.  And we need to be careful that we understand what Jesus means by “poor in spirit.”  He doesn’t mean that you have to be materially poor.  Now…He may have, in fact, definitely has, called some of us to different levels of material wealth.  But this verse does not mean that you need to be begging for hand outs so you can eat…in order to see the kingdom of heaven.  It also isn’t simply a matter of self-esteem.  God hasn’t called everyone to be an introvert.  He’s called people from all different personality styles as His people…this goes beyond personality and natural disposition.

 And here’s where we need to be careful.  What I see happen a lot of times when people read through a passage like this, is that they see what is being promised, so they sort of fake it.  I don’t know how else to say it…we just fake it.  So instead of having an actual understanding of what Christ is commanding, we just assume an Eeyore type personality in hopes that we’ll then, because of our lowly attitude, deserve the kingdom of heaven.  This really is one of the great mistakes of our sort of moralistic deism version of Christianity.  We actually begin to think that we can somehow earn the favor of God, and therefore, our salvation, by our own efforts.

 In each of our first two games, there has been a point when one of our players has broken out of what I just call, “the mass”…that huge glob of kids squished together around the ball.  They break out, dribbling, running fast…not falling down…getting ready to blast it into the back of the net…only…the wrong net.  They’ve managed to get the behavior right…they’re doing it…they’re playing soccer…they’re just going in the complete wrong direction…as I chase them down the field, begging them to turn the other way.  This is what Jesus is doing with the beatitudes.  He’s telling us, “You’re going the wrong way.”  Even if you figure out how to do “church” or “Christianity”…that won’t be your hope.  He alone is our hope.  That’s what it means to be poor in spirit.  It’s having a right understanding of our place in God’s redemption.

The poor in spirit understand that they can’t earn it.  They understand that they are unworthy of the grace that is offered in Jesus Christ.  They understand that the only leg they have to stand on, is not their own, but the nail-scarred legs of Christ alone.  So they turn to Him, repent, and are saved…for the glory of God.

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