Upside-Down – Week of January 30, 2023
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
There’s a building on the campus of UC San Diego that looks completely upside-down. UC San Diego has a highly respected school of engineering. The campus library structure is an inverted pyramid. To the novice like you and me, that building makes no sense. It’s a feat of engineering skill and knowledge. (To see the building, search for UC San Diego Geisel Library. It was named for Theodore Geisel who you may know as Dr. Suess.) For the visitor to campus, it’s a must see.
Today’s short reading is from the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It comes from the section called The Beatitudes. Each of the eight statements begins with the words, “Blessed are…”. The statements continue with words such a poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted. What a mix of ideas! As we consider them, you and I would likely strive to be merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker. Those are qualities that are admired and respected. As we look at other statements, you and I might wonder what is meant.
For today, let’s focus on the first one—poor in spirit. Why would being poor in spirit be a blessing? This phrase is not referencing someone who is like Eeyore. It’s not talking about someone who is constantly walking around dejected and gloomy. The poor in spirit are those who recognize their own weaknesses and sinfulness. They know that on their own, they can do nothing about their sin. No matter how hard one might work, the perfection that God demands is never attainable. God demands one hundred percent perfection. We are able to provide zero. This doesn’t make us blessed, but God’s grace does. In our weakness we realize our desperate need for a Savior. Through faith God gives us the credit for Jesus’ perfection. The peace of forgiveness and the promise of heaven is ours because of Jesus’ perfect life, his death, and his resurrection. What a blessing!
For us, that’s upside-down thinking. The perfect one, Jesus, pays for the sins of the imperfect, ours. We, the poor in spirit sinners, become rich in God’s mercy. We are blessed beyond words. The Beatitudes are words of comfort and encouragement for the Christian. May the Lord continue to bless each of you as you grow in faith and in the knowledge of God’s grace for us.
Dear Jesus, so much of what you have done for us and continue to do for us is contrary to the way the world thinks. Help us to grow in faith and in our reliance on you for strength, forgiveness, and encouragement. In our weakness, draw us closer to you. It’s in your name we pray. Amen
Christian Worship 21 562:1 Jesus Paid It All
I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small.
Child of weakness, watch and pray, find in me thine all in all.”
Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.
A Question to Consider: Take a few minutes and read through all The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-11. Consider how each one can be a comfort and encouragement in your walk as God’s blessed child.