Living in the Beatitudes

"The poetry of history lies in the miraculous fact that once on this earth, once, on this familiar spot of ground, walked other men and women, as actual as we are today, thinking their own thoughts, swayed by their own passions, but now all gone, one generation vanishing after another, gone as utterly as we ourselves shall shortly be gone like ghosts at cockcrow." G. M. Trevelyan Do you think they look poor?If you’re like me, you’ve read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11) a thousand times. You learned them in Sunday school as a child and perhaps tried to memorize them. You may not recall what I'm even talking about here. It not, take a moment and read them. I've given you the reference. Someone, perhaps a teacher, parent or grandmother just knew, a long time ago, re how important they are in life. For a long time, people have been trying to get their head wrapped around what Jesus intended in these short statements.For a year now, I’ve been parked right at their address in the Scripture and read them multiple times a week trying to dig in and suck out the marrow they offer. The fact is, I’ve been nourished and impacted in a big way.These eight paradigms uttered from the mouth of Jesus, himself offer today’s busy worker a whole new way to view life. The Beatitudes lay down a foundation of how to “do” life.   In my work with leaders for 35 years now, what I’m going to say is sad and sobering. [tweetthis]Few leaders in the marketplace and ministry are happy. Discontent is epidemic. Stress is out the wazoo. We have more monetary success than ever before in this history of the world but our inner worlds are in disarray.[/tweetthis] [tweetthis]Few leaders in the marketplace and ministry are happy. Discontent is epidemic. Stress is out the wazoo. We have more monetary success than ever before in this history of the world but our inner worlds are in disarray.[/tweetthis]We have all been programmed with a way to be happy. The beatitudes fly in the face of our programming. The wheels of the bus come off of our lives when we come face to face with Jesus’ own words and his heart for us as his brothers and sisters and his friends.Yet, Jesus, the One who had the audacity to say that “I am the way, the truth and the life…” offered us eight foundational planks upon which we can build a new platform and perhaps really taste and discover—if not really live the life that is truly a life.[tweetthis]What I am finding is that these Beatitudes---there really is something up with them and as I move on with me life, I want these to be the markers of my life.[/tweetthis]What Jesus said in these short, pithy, life-altering statements are primarily two things: Live this way and you will be living in counter-cultural way. And live this way and you will be living in a counter-intuitive way.The Beatitudes are counter-cultural because they simply flow against the stream of our every-day, surviving life. In Jesus’ wisdom, he offers us a way to turn our ordinary life around and live with new ways of looking at life, people, tragedy, success and genuine health.Take the first Beatitude as an example. Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Rock my world, right here! Today, everyone is an expert. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is selling something. Yet poverty—that posture where you have more questions than answers is the way to live. Cultivating a healthy ignorance can become more life-giving than knowing it all or pretending to know it all.What if pastors could become more poor on Sundays and in Sunday's sermons and simply say, "I've been way too busy this week to even listen to God--much less read my Bible. Perhaps you've had the same week. Could we just sit in some silence? Could we then just do some deep listening to a passage of Scripture. Sing a song and go home and eat lunch with our friends and family?" I'd like that kind of honesty rather than having to listen to a message that seems canned; seems stolen from the internet yet spoken with such authority that it is more shocking than real?  Let's get poor here!What if a business leader could attend a seminar which would help them become more poor than rich—more humble than prideful; more less of a know it all than an arrogant person who people are repulsed by privately but never say so publicly. What if a leader would lead by listening to his team more; his clients more; his competitors more. That kind of poverty would yield something rich, I'm sure of it.Can a leader be both powerful and poor at the same time?[tweetthis]Being poor in spirit is an invitation to become more reflective and not so reactionary. It is learning to live with wonder not facts.[/tweetthis] It is leaning more into mystery than linear thinking. It is giving up the 7 steps and the 21 habits and all that nonsense.Poor folks respond when something of worth is handed them. They respond with gratitude not entitlement. Spiritual entitlement and spiritual greed has become one of the markers of so many Christian leaders today. Spiritual greed is coveting more knowledge, more content; more insights and you hoard it. It’s not assuming the posture of being impoverished by all our books, notebooks and note-taking church. Spiritual entitlement is thinking because you’v been raised in the church or gone to seminary or something like that they people NEED to listen to you. That’s entitlement. To think people NEED your opinion or perhaps even want you opinion. Being poor in Spirit is walking around with palms up not fists clenched. Palms up living is living every day to receive whatever it is the Good Lord might want you give you that day. Then being grateful for it not holding a grudge that “they” got more than you or “they “ got something better than you. Our spiritual greed has not served us well. We are not the envy of other nations. We are not the answer to every problem and the guardian to everyone’s crisis. God is. We are not. That is spiritual poverty.Being poor in spirit for me means shifting how I look at people—especially leaders who seem to fixed---so obsessed on becoming a better something; an even higher status of a being known as a “high capacity leader.” To be honest, that term sickens me. It’s really not a compliment to say such things of anyone; especially one’s own humble and poor self. What is that way of talk anyway? A poor in spirit leader is simply not comfortable with that kind of label wearing, resume taunting person. A poor in spirit leader just shows up and says, “God, what do you have for me today?” It means dumping your plans and living with a dailiness in mind…simply to become so low that you’d say over the loud speaker in your complex. “People, today, we’re just going to do one thing! We’re going to do someone some good today.” That’s it. That’s poor in spirit.[tweetthis]For those of us who can learn this kind of spiritual bankruptcy, ours is the promise of everything.[/tweetthis] Jesus tells us the people who are low; the people who live humbly; the people who act like they are not more than they really are inside; the people who abandon their false, veneer ways of living and simply just choose to be themselves actually get everything. These kind of folks get the Kingdom.Now, for me, this is counter-intuitive. It goes against everything my daddy taught me and everything I sense in the committee meeting that goes on inside my head.Becoming poor in spirit means to walk lowly; it means to live with a daily humility that is grounded in that I am but a vapor here and I will too, soon pass from this earth. I will be replaced. I am not invincible. I am not important. It means to relish in my own belovedness as a chosen child of God—a very important person in God’s eyes and in God’s economy. It means a every day laying down in trying to promote myself and make myself to seem more important than I am. With this kind of living there is a richness—a richness that compels me to become more poor than every before.