Much more of a beggar than we think or not for those who think they have it all together (The Cost of Discipleship 6)

In the early days of the Great Depression, the fear of losing a job hung over ever neighborhood and every family. The shame of failing to provide for your family was so great it rattled every man. So, when men lost their jobs, they wouldn’t tell their friends and family. Instead, they would get up, get dressed for work, and leave as if nothing was wrong. Some men continued the charade for weeks. The only way friends and family knew these men had joined the unemployed was when the family home was foreclosed and all of the family possessions, which were often bought on credit, were taken away.
As Bonhoeffer moves into his study of the Sermon on the Mount, he addresses the first words of Christ’s message, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Bonhoeffer’s assessment of the verse is stark and it confronts us at the core of our pride. He says disciples of Christ are “so inexperienced, so stupid, that they have no other hope but Him who called them.”
The word poor means the poorest of the poor. It was often used of a beggar. Jesus confronts our pride and self-sufficiency by telling us that the proud do not make it in. Those who pretend to have it together need not apply for discipleship. The first step is a downward step. We do not have it all together and as long as we want to pretend we do we have no place in the kingdom.
The first confession of those who follow is simple: I do not have it all together. I need assistance. And in an age of pride, self-esteem, and greatness without accomplishment the words of Jesus are often ignored or rejected. Today, no one wants to say, ‘I am a beggar.’
Until we can say those words, and really mean them, our hope is in ourselves and not in Christ.


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