Now I begin a new type of parable/story, one that depicts the beginning of the beatitudes as one story. Each section of the story is meant to convey or reflect upon a part of the beatitude. It follows an individual named ‘Person’ and although I made him male, it is intended to be neutral of gender and individuality.
Person had lived a good life with many advantages and benefits. He didn’t notice the day or week when the gradual shift from a pleasant existence to one of struggle really began for it happened slowly. Although unnoticed, he found that normal problems began to bother him more, that his finances were in bad shape, and that he was often impatient at the slightest inconvenience or change.
On a particularly bad day, Person found a small sum of money in an unused jacket and decided this was a sign of good things to come, of a positive change ahead. Immediately relieved by this thought, he decided to celebrate and spent the discovered money and even a little more that was intended for rent. He knew that the little omen of good to come would help resolve that as well. He believed there was no reason to worry about rent. It just required a little patience; soon enough things would be even better.
Person lived in a building owned by a wealthy land owner named Prosper. He had never met Prosper, but had always heard that the landowner expected payment on time and would not tolerate any deviation or destruction of property. There was a waiting list to live in a building owned by Prosper because they were so well maintained and priced so competitively. He had become so esteemed in the community that many people saw his tenants as people of a higher class.
Person hated the idea of being short on rent, or even worse of missing the due date entirely. As the day drew near he tried to come up with the money by selling a prized possession given to him as a graduation gift many years before by a family friend. He entered the pawn shop with confidence, believing it would bring him enough money to pay rent and have quite a bit left over. He noticed a police officer standing by the doorway, but thought nothing of it as he approached the counter.
The item he intended to sell was recognized by the police officer, and before he could complete the transaction he found himself in handcuffs. He was stunned to hear the charges of theft. As the cell door shut him in, he wondered what could be done and who he could call. The prized possession had been reported missing by Prosper many years ago, and the police officer had not forgotten it. As a result of recovering the stolen item, the officer hoped to benefit his son who had been on a waiting list for an apartment owned by Prosper.
When Person heard that Prosper was the owner of the stolen item it had made him very dejected and hopeless. At the trial he could not face his landlord as the charges were read off in agonizing succession. The man everyone hoped to impress and find favor with was now his enemy. He had no receipt and no proof that the stolen object was a gift. The whereabouts of the friend who gave him the gift was unknown and he concluded that no one would believe his story.
Feeling defensive after cross examination, Person decided he had nothing left to lose. Against the advice of his public defender, he began to tell the full story. He confessed that he had money to pay rent, but had decided to spend it on a whim. He then explained how the stolen object was given to him as a graduation gift. He admitted that he felt responsible for never asking how the person could have purchased such a valuable item because he didn’t want to know. It was all he could do to choke the words out into a mostly intelligible string of words.
Person heard movement and whispers in the courtroom, but did not look up until he heard footsteps approaching him. Prosper stood in front of him with an intense look on his face. “Repeat your testimony.” Prosper said, holding his gaze as if to force the truth. Person was frightened, but repeated the story again, this time to the man directly and added that he was sorry. Prosper turned to the judge and requested that all charges be dropped and indicated the debt for rent was forgiven. Person was speechless as commotion filled the courtroom. (Click here to continue to the next section of the story)
—————Thoughts that motivated this section of the story—————
In this section of the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3), Jesus begins with the promise to the poor in Spirit.
The poor in spirit are spiritually bankrupt and realize they come before God without good works or enough faith to get it all right before God. They are without hope of solving their own dilemma and powerless. Rather than return our bankrupt verdict with debt and disdain, Jesus indicates the reason they are ‘blessed’ is theirs is the kingdom of God. That indicates they are given the kingdom, or to put it another way, they inherit it. What better reward could there be for anyone? Heaven indicated eternity, permanence, and the promise of something better than the earthly body we inhabit today.
The kingdom of Heaven was promised by John the Baptist, then Jesus Himself. I find it ironic that this kingdom is not promised to those who act in a certain way, but to those who were broken and repentant, turning from the person they were. To be given an inheritance denotes a promise and a future that was earned by someone else. Were we rewarded with an inheritance this first opening statement would be entirely different, it would be a result of doing something. Instead, the poor in spirit realize they are not sufficient; they are without a means to seek the Lord’s favor; and certainly not expecting an inheritance.
I sometimes think of the way God does things as upside-down to the world’s way of looking at things. Instead of climbing a ladder to go up, you must climb down into humility and realize the depravity and wrong inside. Once humbled we are given a glorious promise that is not just a simple one-time amount to get us back on our feet. Instead, there is an inheritance, which implies belonging and being part of a family. An inheritance is more than a lump sum; it is a promise of even more to come as it increases dividends and value over time. It is backwards to adopt the bankrupt and unworthy, but that is the promise. The Lord promises to bless us when we see our wrongs against Him and sincerely seek Him.