“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:3
Like everyone else, I rolled my eyes when Creflo Dollar asked his congregation to help him raise money for a new jet. It is easy to see our love affair with things when it is presented in such an obvious fashion. But Creflo’s desire for a jet is just a reflection of something we all struggle with. Our struggles might be more subtle, but they are still there, and still have the same effect on our hearts.
We want to be close to God, but there’s all this stuff in the way.
A.W. Tozer has a brilliant book called The Pursuit of God. It’s a short book filled with powerful insights – I highly recommend it if you’ve never read it. I try to go through it at least every couple of years. The whole book is great, but there is one chapter in particular called “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing”. That passage challenges me every time because it talks about this struggle that lies at the heart of the human condition.
We are wired to be in a relationship with God. That’s all – it’s simple. But ever since Adam and Eve, that just hasn’t felt like enough. So we’ve added “all these things” into the mix. Houses and holidays, clothes and cars, church and children.
Some of these things are good. Actually they can all be good when put in their proper place. The problem is we usually put them front and center, and they end up crowding out our hearts so that there is no room for God in the center where he belongs.
So what is the answer? Like Abraham bringing Isaac before God as a sacrifice, we can bring everything we own before God. Our talents, our faults, our relationships, our possessions. All of the things that we want to hold on to and say, “No, God, this is mine.”
Give all of those things over to God, to the point where your heart owns nothing. Then you begin to understand what Jesus meant by “poor in spirit”. Your heart is empty at the center, and God can enter into that place and do his good work in you. Your relationship to him is restored.
Then a beautiful thing can happen. With God at the center of your life, you still can enjoy the blessings he’s given us – all your relationships and roles, and yes, your things as well, can be brought back in. But you now have a loose hold on those things, knowing that it’s all God’s anyway.
Like I said, this is a difficult passage. Not difficult to understand, mind you. You can probably read it in a few minutes and get a sense of it. But really living it out involves a lifetime filled with days of denying yourself, picking up your cross, and following Jesus.
It is hard, but it is the best way to live.