UPSIDE DOWN LIVING….
I have found myself hiding out lately, not wanting to turn on the television after work nor even the radio during drive time in and out of Tulsa every day. I deleted my facebook app from my phone about a week ago, and I limit the times I click on Instagram every day. Thankfully, I've never become a Twitter'r and my kids never allowed me to open a SnapChat account (I know how that sounds by the way).
The events in Charlottesville have me deeply troubled. Before Charlottesville, it was the fallout from the election. Before that, it was the campaigns FOR the election. I am terribly worried about society and what is happening to people in the world today. People are so angry. People feel like they are being violated. People seem to think their rights are being stripped from them. People, so many people, are so frustrated in their souls that physical violence and verbally lashing out seems to be the only response.
Satan has finally found the platform that is working so well across all cultures and in mass quantities. Tell people they deserve how they feel. Tell people they have rights. Tell people their opinion is the only one that matters. Tell people they need to fight for their beliefs, no matter who it hurts or how it sounds. Tell people they are empowered. Tell them. Tell them all. Tell them on social media, in advertisements, in late-night (what use to be stand-up comedy) talk shows, in sports, in politics, and even in our churches.
But wait guys. The Bible has made it so clear how we, as Christians, are to live. We are to be humble to the extent of being "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:1-12). We are to be humble before God, realizing that we have nothing in this life that can hold a candle to the kingdom of heaven. We have no power, no possession, no act of service, and no merit worthy of entrance into heaven. We are to humble ourselves to the point that our opinions, if they take our eyes or our neighbor's eyes off God, are worthless. We are to live our lives in total dependence on God to supply our needs. To be humble is to confess that we are small, and we are always third - God first, others second, and then us. Think of how the rush-hour drive home would be if we all had this philosophy, or the long lines at the grocery store. What about all these riots?
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." This beatitude found in the Gospel of Matthew needs to be really broken down and examined. To be poor in spirit is to have no arrogance, no self-righteousness, no self-sufficiency. It is internal bankruptcy. It is to be free from pretensions and free for God to use however He wishes. To be poor in spirit is to be spiritually poor, which makes complete sense in that salvation is a gift from God – nothing we have or can earn can get us to the Kingdom. It is a gift.
Reading scripture from The Message sometimes helps to bring what God is calling us to do home in a unique and fresh way. Roman 12:2 from The Message says - "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
It's an upside down way of life, this life of being completely humble. I have committed some time to think about humility and being poor in spirit, and what it might mean for me. I've spent a day or two asking God to show me the areas of my life where humility is a problem. I am realizing that it is not just a word to master, but a complete way of thinking and interacting with others that is far opposite and upside down from what the world is teaching us all. But I hang on the promise that for those who can embrace it, "theirs IS the kingdom of heaven." Won't you give it a try with me? May it be so.