“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 5:3
Time and again in the epistles, we are told to stand: stand firm in the Lord; stand by your faith; stand firm in the faith; stand, therefore, having your loins girded with truth; stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. Clearly we are supposed to stand. Standing is good. Let’s be standers.
As often is the case, discipleship is a bit more complicated than it sometimes appears. Truth prefers paradox.
We need to learn other postures, positions, poses, and stances as well. Why? Because the position of our physical body affects the way we perceive ourselves and our environment. This close connection between the physical and the mental is seen in the word attitude: a word which used to refer to physical posture and now almost always refers to the orientation of the mind.
How does this relate to the beatitudes? The word for poor means to crouch, like a beggar. Blessed are those who crouch. Blessed are those who bend the knees, who hunch over, who stoop, who squat, who bow the head with arms outstretched, waiting to receive alms. It is a position of humility and a declaration of great need.
So do we stand or do we crouch? We do both, because life is complicated and truth is even more complicated.
In the end and even in the present, we will be blessed, if we learn all of the mental and emotional lessons inherent in crouching. This is why James says to count it all joy when you encounter trials. They return you to a proper stance: one of powerlessness, reliance, and utter humility.
When Jesus stood in his hometown synagogue at Nazareth he was handed a scroll containing the words of Isaiah. He took it, found the passage he wanted, and began to read: “The spirit of the LORD is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.”
Today, I will practice poverty of spirit, crouching with hands outstretched and open so that I might be able to receive the good news at an even deeper level.