Poor In Spirit (Pt. 1): The Riches of the Knowledge of God

“Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…” (Matt. 6:3).

The 2012 OneThing conference in KC rumbled to a dramatic close as George Otis Jr. provoked us to take risks into the all-consuming fire of the Lord’s presence; to be compelled by desire and desperation when satisfaction and distraction would keep us from the grand destiny that awaits us.  The thought of this both excites and terrifies me–the Holy Wild, the unsafe lion, the tremmlesome, the wonderful, the awe-ful. I want to wonder at the Holiness of God with a healthy, vibrant fear and fascination, in view of the stormy beauty of the unknown and the totally other. And at the same time, I realize it will cost me a great deal. Yet what I have to gain compels me a great deal more, in order that I would rejoice in the prize that comes with the cost.

That is not initially what I would have thought of when considering the first Beatitude. It is the gateway to the other 7 Blessings, the first step on a ladder to the knowledge of God from which all of the other Beatitudes climb. It is the sober realization that our current state is despairingly impoverished in comparison to the riches of Heaven and all that is conferred to us when we become Christians. It is the entry point into salvation, “Save me, Lord! I recognize that I am a sinner in comparison to the brightness of your beauty.” As Spurgeon says, “How, then, shall we approach him before whom angels bow and archangels veil their faces—him in whose sight the white radiance of heaven itself is stained with impurity?” It is to come to an awareness of how much I lack and how much He IS.

I ask, Lord give me grace to pursue this concretely. Because what I am asking is not just to understand a negative–my lack–but the extreme positive. It is not just to understand how small I am, how weak my faith is, but a desperate daring to approach an enormously greater implication:

It is to ask for a revelation of His grandeur, His richness, His magnificent splendor, His vibrant and powerful personality, the vast ocean of His mercy, and the potency of His grace. It is to gaze into the eyes that are at once blazing with consuming fire, swallowing every kindling lie scattered in my soul, and in the same moment, tenderly warming my cold heart. It is to look at the Universe and realize that not only does His arm outstretch it, but that that same arm is outstretched to me. It is to ask for a revelation of beauty that destroys every insinuation of darkness, that short-circuits the mind, rendering it immobile by the vast, and yet intimate, Lord God Almighty.

Poverty of Spirit is not merely the denouncing of a weak and bereft shell; it is asking for an understanding that leads us to the brink of comprehension, disabling argument or bartering… and erupts into worship! — a cloud of worship surrounding a godly sorrow of how sunken, broken, and impoverished I am without Him… and in the same moment beginning to grasp that all of His personhood, His gifts, His righteousness, His presence, and His love are available to me.

Though I understand, no, because I understand the intensity, the demand of having  a poor spirit, let me love this blessed beatitude. I want more. Lord, I want more and more revelation in this, that you may be delighted by my response.

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