Disabled (And Proud of It)
"They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.'
This chapter of Matthew 5 (New Century Version) begins with Jesus teaching the people and his newfound disciples on the side of a hill, famously known as the 'Sermon on the Mount’ or the 'Beatitudes'. I've been to the supposed area in Israel where this sermon occurred, and even had a sermon preached to me while sitting there. The scenery is beautiful even though it's quite commercialized. The day we were there, our group was given a short block of time to sit on the hillside and 'do our thing' only to be followed by group after group waiting on us who also had a block of time on the hillside 'to do their thing'! When I say group after group, I mean that there were probably hundreds and hundreds of people with tour guides, doing the same thing. I'll be honest, when I saw all the groups waiting to do the same thing we did, it didn't give me goose bumps or make me feel like I was on holy ground. It actually made me feel like we were all worshipping a moment - sort of what the disciples did when they wanted to build altars on the mount where Jesus was transfigured. Don't get me wrong, it was pretty cool to be there and it gave some perspective to Jesus' day and His whereabouts. But I think if we're not careful we can easily make shrines out of moments, and in the end we miss the purpose that created the moment.
What I gained from sitting on that hillside was that any time I go over this sermon I want to look at it afresh, letting it touch the core of who I am. In the verse above, Jesus began His sermon with addressing our spiritual condition. He was in fact identifying how to be blessed, but what is interesting is the action that Jesus said we first must take; action that started with the realization that we are poor in spirit.
God's blessing starts with us realizing that our spiritual state, the core of who we are, is poor without Him. The core of who we are cannot make it without Him. It's the realization that our own selves, our self-righteousness, is just filthy rags. We can't do it alone. We don't have the answers. Our best efforts come short of being anything noteworthy. We have to be willing to empty ourselves of ourselves - from the inside out. We must realize that we are poor in having what it takes to make life work. That's the core mindset Jesus was referring to which starts us on the path to receiving God's blessing.
The tough part about this for Christians is that we can all remember a time we realized this...but the question is, 'Are we still realizing our poverty today?' The core of who we are in Christ must maintain this level of humility. You may ask, 'Why does God require this?' My only answer is because He knows something we don't. You see, the moment we make real to Heaven the fact that we cannot do it on our own something supernatural happens. Almighty God steps in. He steps into our blind, prideful, messed up, disorderly lives and creates a blessing. The blessing is what He makes available to us - the Kingdom of Heaven. In other words, we're blessed with the ability to access Heaven for whatever help we need, in order to make up for whatever we fall short in. But only if we first acknowledge our shortfall.
One cannot accomplish that in our own strength. No, the answer doesn't lie in our abilities. The answer is found when we acknowledge our disabilities. It's accepting the fact that we are disabled - handicapped far greater than anything physical. That my friend, gets God's attention. The Apostle Paul got a glimpse of this revelation one day when he discussed with Jesus his own inability to produce results. What He learned from Jesus was a powerful truth about what happens when our humility comes in contact with God's blessing. Paul put it this way; "Now I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ's power can live in me." What Paul could not do of himself, Christ's power - His incredible grace - made it possible.
The purpose that created the moment was to help mankind access Heaven. Jesus didn't teach it in the synagogue to the educated. He taught it on the hillside to the ordinary, everyday people like you and me. Now I'm disabled, and proud of it.