Blessed are the Anxious and Downtrodden

Written on 06/05/2018
Luke Estrada



Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

James 2:2-6

Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,”4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?

I go to school in a beach town just outside of Los Angeles. My friends and I like to go into the city a lot to explore and see all the things LA has to offer.

One night we headed into town to get dinner. When we got to the restaurant, we couldn’t find any open parking except for the grocery store across the way.
There were signs posted around saying they would tow us if we weren’t customers, but we were starving and impatient, so we just left the car at the grocery store.
We came back an hour later.
Our bellies were very full. Unfortunately, the parking lot was not. The car had been towed.

There was a number for a towing company, and we got the address where we could pick up the car.

Skid Row.

The Skid Row area is known for it’s large homeless population, with there being a reliable 5-8,000 homeless there year-round.
Crime is pretty high in that area as well.
We tried to mask how scared we were as we rode the taxi over to Skid Row. 

We only spent about 20 minutes in Skid Row as we got our vehicle back. During that 20 minutes, we were shaking in our boots, confident that we would be mugged or assaulted.
We were jumpy, quiet, and suspicious of every shadow.
After an uneventful 20 minutes, we were back in the car and on our way to our cushy, safe, Malibu dorms.

Why was I so scared?
How could I be so sure that trouble was not only possible but imminent?
The answer is simple, but hard to take in...
he moment I realized where we were headed that night, I prioritized money over humanity.
I was fast to draw the line between rich and poor... with the civilized being on the side of the rich.
I put the distinction between them and me before the distinction between us and God

While I didn’t even interact with any of the homeless population that night, I sinned in my heart against a people that had never done me wrong.

We treat the poor in spirit much the same way.
The anxious, the depressed, and the lonely.
We avoid them in the office or around the cafeteria; we don’t dare to go and invest our time because we don’t want to open that can of worms.
I’ve been part of many conversations about being friendly to an annoying person in our lives, and how the person won’t leave them alone now.
But what kind of love is that?
What message do we send to our downtrodden brothers and sisters when we avoid them because we don’t want to help with their heartbreak, with their mourning, with their loneliness? 

The poor in spirit are less conspicuous than the poor in wallet, but it’s harder to avoid the poor in spirit.
Interestingly, Jesus doesn't challenge us to notice the poor in spirit. He challenges us to become
 the poor in spirit. 
The more we become poor in spirit, the closer we come to our inheritance of the kingdom of God.

We often read the beatitudes as if they are something to give to someone else. If someone is poor in spirit, they can have comfort in knowing that the kingdom is coming for them.
What if we saw them as a higher calling? 
In God’s upside down world, it’s not the rich and boastful in spirit who lead the kingdom, but the poor.

Let us examine ourselves.

Where have we favored the rich in spirit over the poor?
In our hearts?
In our company?
In our priorities?
I’m guilty of shirking my responsibility for sharing Christ’s love with those most in need, with those who need the saving power and everlasting love.
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom.
Blessed are the anxious and downtrodden, for theirs is the love of God, a well which never runs dry.

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God, mold my heart to be more like yours. Will you open my eyes to see the poor and the outcast like never before? Will you open my hands to give as you give? Will you open my hands in humility so that I can receive good gifts from you and from others? Will you open my hands wide to acceptance others the way you accept others?