Sunday, November 24, 2013

For Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Poverty of Sprit 3)

Power of the world is self-sufficiency.  

At first, we must have our children depend on us,  for they cannot survive without us.  As time goes on, however, we rejoice in the independence of our children, we teach them to be strong in themselves.  The maturity of a child is never done until they are living in the world on their own power, standing tall in the midst of a difficult society.

Our whole society is built upon the self-sufficiency of the individual.  Each person makes their own decision, relies on their own wit and hard work to make of them who they are.   The core text is the legend of the individual who creates their lives by their own resources and abilities, despite obstacles, despite opponents. 

Self-sufficiency is so foundational to our society that if Society determines to punish someone, they take away a portion of their self-sufficiency.  A violator is fined of the funds they have earned; a criminal is taken away from the opportunity to live their own life, to make their own decisions, to earn their own way.
Yet this is not the path of the kingdom of God.  It might be debated whether complete independence is realistic in any world, but it is certainly not the truth of the kingdom.  The path of the kingdom is that of dependence.

Jesus says that if anyone must enter the kingdom of God, they must return and be like a child, learning humility, learning faith.  The way of the child is the way of dependence, the rejection of self-sufficiency.  To be born again is to become an infant again, taking up what the Mother in Heaven gives us, and relying on that alone.

Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!...Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”  (Luke 12:24-31)

The seeker of God’s kingdom does not fret about food, clothing or the basic needs of the world.  It is provided by the Father, giving freedom for the child to do the work of the kingdom, and that alone. 

Worrying about food, clothing and the items of survival are left to those of the world of self-sufficiency. 

The kingdom of God is the world of the child, the world of those who live by faith.  The realm of self-sufficiency mocks this way, calling it unrealistic and foolish.  Yes, it is unrealistic to the adult, but to the child it is simple truth.  The fearful call the way of dependence foolish and the path of destruction.  Surely, the self-sufficient who walk the way of dependence will fail and possibly harm themselves.  But it is the glory of a child to be vulnerable.

Some would say that once one has tasted self-sufficiency that it is not possible to become dependent.  Yet those who follow the way of Jesus recognize that the incarnation is this very path, the way we are to follow.  Jesus had all power within his hand and he surrendered it to become an infant.  He sucked only on the breast that was given him, he was cleaned at the whim of a human parent.

And do we not all, when we are aged and our flesh and mind become frail, rely completely at the hands of our children, whom we raised, whom we lifted in our arm, providing them strength only through our own strength?

The poverty the Lord asks of us is that of reliance, that of dependence.  In that way, we are strong only by the strength of God.  Is not that strength greater than our human poverty?  Yet were it not for our poverty, we might never obtain that strength.

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