I love and hate this section of Luke 6! I love it because of how in your face and confrontational it is to the religious elite. I love how it challenges arrogance and hypocrisy and promotes compassion and grace.
I love when those things are pointed at everyone else. I honestly, deep down hate how much this passage condemns things that I do. As much as I like to think that I listen to God and follow his word, I never let myself be uncomfortable for very long. At best, I allow a nagging thought to slightly change me. I seldom allow myself to be completely shaken and re-evaluate most of how I live.
Annoyingly, this passage did that for me.
Jesus calls his disciples. He takes them to some random level place, heals a bunch of people, then begins to preach.
Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God. (vs. 20)
In the first translation of this verse, I was let off the hook a little. It said “Blessed are the poor (in spirit)” and I thought “I beat myself up all the time. No one is harder on me than me. That’s got to be poor in spirit. I’m good with this one. Check!” (Cause no matter how much I like to say it’s all about God and grace, there’s still a part of me that feels comforted by checking off ways I qualify for deserving to be “in”.)
Still, I couldn’t help but wonder why this passage wasn’t translated “poor in spirit” if it obviously meant “poor in spirit.” So, I went to my handy dandy The Complete Word Study New Testament by Zodhiates. I looked up the original Greek word for “poor” used in this passage. It means a beggar or someone completely dependent on others. There really isn’t a single English word that portrays what this word means. Especially to a society who thinks “I’m so poor I can’t afford a new Iphone.”
The use of this word would have actually been extremely provocative to the people in Jesus’ day. The typical belief was that the poor were “unclean” and association with them made you also “unclean”. Their poverty was viewed as a judgment from God. The ultimate sign of God’s acceptance of a person was believed to be wealth and ease so that you could follow all of the crazy rules hyper religious people had.
I believe Jesus very intentionally used this word to demonstrate how incredibly different his teaching was from the religious norm. I believe he meant it both literally and symbolically. “Blessed are those who physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually know they are dependent on others, ‘cause they get what the kingdom of God is all about”.
Even today, religious people who claim to follow Jesus point to wealth, ease, material comfort and independence as signs of God’s blessing. I seldom hear people talk about seeking God and being dependent on him or others as a blessing.
While I love this passage for everyone else and how it contradicts so much of what is presented as Christian in popular culture, I don’t like what it says about me!
I completely give in to despair when my finances are tight. I struggle with feeling abandoned by God because I’m not making any money right now. I pictured my life being different and easier by now. My slight struggles make me feel “unblessed”, but they are the exact things that cause me to depend on him and that is where I’m most blessed.
And that’s just one verse! I’m never going to get through this book! LOL
Lord help me live in this truth. Help us those of us who claim to be Christians to learn to actually follow what you taught. Begin with me. Help me change my focus from all my stuff to your kingdom!
Blessings my friends! Thanks for reading and sharing!