22. Heaven

The first Beatitude blessing promise is to the poor in spirit. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." The Kingdom of Heaven is here, now, as opposed to some hereafter place. "The Kingdom of God," Jesus said, "is within you." Jesus' promise is that the poor in spirit will enter heaven while still living on earth.

This requirement has an unpleasant sound. No one likes the idea of being poor. Balanced against the negative of the word poor, is the idea of heaven's grandness. A paradox?

True, poor means being without. Further, in Jesus' times the poor had nothing. They were destitute, paupers, beggars who were dependent on others. This beatitude says you are to be devoid of spirit so you can become totally dependent on God. What a contrast to modern life. You have been taught to be reasoning, independent, self-sufficient, and proud.

You will rebel at this idea unless you understand "spirit" and tie the two words together. Spirit, or pneuma, is the energy of life. Simply, spirit means you, your personality as you are, and as you function. Your spirit includes your attitude about yourself and life.

Jesus' message here is that when you become small in your own eyes, you are ready to depend on God for your blessings. This is easy to understand. As long as you remain rich in spirit you are self-sufficient and never imagine that you need God. You manage your life and make your choices all alone.

Only after you realize that your efforts are not providing the inner satisfaction you crave can you develop this poverty of spirit attitude. When you admit your limitations, God can move in with you, bring you into his presence, the Kingdom of Heaven, and begin blessing your life.

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