20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” - Luke 6:20
There are a great number of people in our world who are ambitious for money. If you are not one of these, there is still a great likelihood that you afraid of poverty. I am convinced that more of us are driven by fear than by ambition. But either way, this verse today will challenge us.
In this opening statement in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declares the place of our fear to be the place of blessing. Resist the urge to rationalize this away. Allow yourself to sit in the tension of these words.
I do not believe that Jesus commands those who follow him to be poor. I do not believe that Jesus values poverty above any other station. I do not believe that Jesus is telling us to become what we fear. But I do believe that Jesus’ intention is to transform our relationship with poverty… and with wealth.
Poverty is not to be feared because of Jesus. Because Jesus is, the poor are blessed with the kingdom of God. Those who have nothing else to cling to will find Jesus ready to invest his kingdom in them.
When we look at the poverty around us, let us look for the blessing of God’s Presence. Each person who has bottomed out, who is unable to provide for themselves, who has come to the end of their productivity, who has no power and no financial ability, whose opportunities are squandered or stolen… each of these is infinitely valued by Jesus. He chooses to invest his kingdom in these. Let us discover this and rejoice. Let us partner with the kingdom of God.
When we recognize the places that we are living from ambition or fear, let us begin to recognize the ways we cling to our self-sufficiency, our bounded safety, our justification and rationalization of our station, and how these things close us to the kingdom of God.
Hear once more these words of Jesus as recorded in the gospel of Matthew: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus’ intention is to bless. Poverty of spirit and poverty of bank account open both our eyes to our need and our hands to the provision of God. Jesus’ blessing is to invite us to no longer live by ambition or by fear, but rather by the secure investment of God’s kingdom in us.
Jesus, your blessings are sufficient to free me from all of my fears. Your kingdom is worthier than all of my ambitions. Bless me this day with poverty that is met by your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, amen.