There was a young executive who was enjoying his successful career decided to invest in a nice brand-new Jaguar convertible. He enjoyed the ride immensely, driving it every day to and from work zipping through the streets feeling invincible like a superman.
One day as he drove past an alleyway, a brick darted out and BAM! — it smashed into his side door. He stepped on the brake, shifted to reverse, and backed up the car to the edge of the alleyway where the brick came out. There he saw a kid standing with fear and guilt on his face.
He zoomed out of the car, grabbed the kid on his neck, and yelled, “Dude, do you know what you just did? That’s an expensive car. It will cost you a fortune to get it repaired. Why did you do that?”
The poor kid started crying and said, “I am sorry, sir. My brother has fallen into the gutter with his wheelchair. I have been waving for help, but nobody stopped for me. Everyone is driving by so fast, and no one even looked this way. Please help me get my brother out.”
The man walked over to the curb and saw a young man stuck in a huge gutter upside down with his wheelchair over him. His nose was barely above the dirty water flowing in the gutter.
He pulled the young man out and settle him back in the wheelchair and watched the young brother pushing him back home.
He walked back to the Jag with heavy steps feeling awoken from his life in the fast lane. He stood there staring at the door for a while and decided not to repair it so that each time he sees the dent, it will remind him not to cruise through life unconscious until God to throw a brick at him.
He decided to live a life of consciousness. Consciousness is not just about being aware of the opportunities around you, but also about being awake to the fact that we could be swallowed by the darkness. You don’t want to wake up one day finding your life stuck in the gutter.
There are two modes of living. Some people sleep through life, and others live awake. The Bible says,
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. (Eph 5:14b–16).
“The days are evil” means unpredictable things could happen to us at an unexpected time, especially when we are dozing off. For many of us, the pandemic might feel like being hit by a brick. The days are unquestionably evil.
What’s important is we must come out of it awakened. Don’t go back to sleep. Some of us might have always been awake. Then let this experience take us to a higher level of consciousness. We can always use a higher level of consciousness to enjoy life to the fullest.
There are different levels of consciousness. Plants are more conscious than rocks. Animals are more conscious than plants. Human beings are more conscious than animals. Within each species, there are different levels of consciousness. Ultimately, God has the highest level of consciousness above all creation since He is the Creator of all.
As Christians, our target consciousness level is that of Jesus Christ because he embodies the ultimate consciousness of God. The Apostle Paul said that we must have “the mind of Christ.” He said,
Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Co 2:14-16).
Here Paul differentiated those who are asleep and those who are awake in terms of unspiritual and spiritual. He says those who are spiritual discern all things. It means they have a higher level of consciousness, and they are able to discern with the mind of Christ.
John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” I would add, “every leader rises and falls on spirituality” because a spiritual person has a higher level of consciousness and the mind of Christ that allows them to discern all things. Discernment and consciousness are essential to good leadership.
Paul said that an unspiritual person is unawakened, and the spiritual matters sound foolishness to them. There is no point in arguing with them because they think you are foolish even though they actually are. The Chinese call it, “Playing the harp to the bull.” (對牛彈琴). Jesus calls it, “Throwing pearls to the swine.” He said,
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Mat 7:6).
He says not only that they don’t appreciate your wisdom, but you will be attacked for shining your light on them. You might say Jesus did not take his own advice. The fact is he loves them so much that he kept throwing his pearls at them, knowing that they would ultimately crucify him, and they did.
How do we rise to a higher level of consciousness? Most religions would teach people to raise their level of consciousness by certain practices, meditations, or rituals, but Christian consciousness is different because it comes as a blessing. That means you cannot earn it through rituals, but you can ask for it.
Jesus began his very first sermon by stating the Eight Blessings that he came to deliver, known as the Beatitudes. When you receive all these eight blessings, you are set free from the suffering of this world. You have entered the enlightenment.
I call these eight blessings, “Eight Steps to the CAREFREE Living.” CAREFREE is an acronym. I am sure you know that being carefree is different from being careless. Carefree represents the real freedom from the stress and anxiety of the evil days of this world and being able to live in heaven on earth.
There is a difference between childlike and childish. Jesus wants us to be childlike—carefree, not childish—careless.
Jesus asks us to seek first the kingdom of God because it gives you a higher level of consciousness and allows you to discern all things through the mind of Christ.
Now let’s look at the first letter of CAREFREE. “C” represents the blessing of “Consciousness,” which is the focus of today’s lesson. Jesus said,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:3).
This verse gives you the key to the kingdom of heaven or the highest level of consciousness. Now, let’s interpret this first blessing and learn how we can inherit the kingdom of heaven based on the way Jesus taught us.
I want to use three words to expound on the profound meaning of this verse: ABC—Ask, Beg, and Cling
Since consciousness is a blessing, you cannot work for it, but you can ask for it. Blessing is like a gift. It’s free, so you cannot earn it. Don’t confuse “you cannot work for it” with “doing nothing at all.” God does expect you to take the minimal initiative. That is asking or praying. That’s all you have to do, and that’s all you can do. Jesus said,
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mat 7:7).
However, the phrase “poor in spirit” implies a more profound way of asking. B is for …
You might think I am repetitive since we already talked about asking. However, I don’t want you to miss the intensity of the meaning that comes from the original language of this verse.
The word “poor” is translated from a Greek word that means “begging.” It’s not just lacking, but it means destitute. It indicates that you are so impoverished that you must beg, or you would die. It implies seriousness.
There’s a story about a young man who came to Socrates and asked for wisdom. Socrates looked at him and sensed the lack of seriousness. So, he took him to a nearby river and pressed his head under the water. After a moment of immersing him in the water, Socrates brought him up and asked, “What do you want?” The young man said, “I want wisdom.”
Then Socrates pressed him back down in the water for a longer time, and then asked, “what do you want?” Again, he gasped and said, “I want wisdom.”
The wise man pressed him down again, this time even longer. After the fourth time, the man got up and cried, “I need air. Sir, I need air!” Socrates says, “If you want wisdom as much as you want air like this, you will get it.”
So, “poor in spirit” can be translated into “beggar of the Spirit.” You must want it enough to beg for it as if you are begging for air. Coincidently the word “spirit” in both Hebrew and Greek means “air,” “wind,” or “breath.”
This perfectly illustrates Jesus’ teaching of “seek first the kingdom of God.” “First” means “top priority.” If you want the kingdom of heaven as much as you want air like a drowning man, you will get it. Again, even though you cannot work for it, but you can ask for it and beg for it.
The third word to expound this verse is “Clinch.”
To clinch is to lock someone with your arms into a position that they cannot move as you see in a boxing or wrestling match. You remember the story of Jacob, who wrestled with God for an entire night.
The Bible said that God couldn’t overpower him (isn’t it interesting?), so he pushed Jacob’s hip out of joint. Yet, he still clinched God tightly. By dawn, God asked him to let him go, but despite the pain, he refused to let him go. Jacob said,
“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Gen 32:26b).
This is the reason why God loves Jacob. He appreciates God’s blessing so much that he stubbornly clinch him until God blessed him. The Bible says,
“Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Rom 9:13b).
Esau was a simple man, but Jacob was a con-artist. Why did God loved Jacob and hated Esau? It’s counter-intuitive and ethically unexplainable. However, when you understand the Bible as a whole, you realize why.
It’s because Esau would easily let things go. He sold his first-born status to Jacob for a bowl of soup. Being the first-born is a blessing, but Esau did not value it. Jacob, on the other hand, was so shameless that he would do whatever it takes to inherit God’s blessing.
Jacob was persistent, he knew the value of God’s blessing, and he was willing to pay whatever the price required to inherit God’s kingdom.
Jesus has told many parables on knowing the value of the kingdom of heaven and persistent payers. For example, the Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Mat 13:44-46), the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price (Mat 13:45-46), the Parable of the Midnight Guest (Luke 11:5-13), and the Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8), just to name a few.
I won’t elaborate on it because it’s pretty much in everything Jesus teaches.
The story of Jacob and Esau reveals to us that you don’t win God’s love by being a nice person like Esau. You win God’s love by desiring God’s kingdom more than your life that you would humbly ask, shamelessly beg, and stubbornly clinch God until He gives it to you.
I hope now you know and understand the seriousness of this verse,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:3).
Blessed are those who want the kingdom of heaven like a drowning man gasping for air. They will receive the kingdom and live a higher level of consciousness and enjoy life to the fullest.
May God bless you all! Amen!