Time Magazine ran a cover story in the summer July of 2013 entitled “The Pursuit of Happiness.” Here is some of what it said, “Since 1972, only about 1/3 of Americans have described themselves as very happy.” (That means 2/3 have not). Twenty-five percent of American women said they are taking anti-depressants. That’s a lot of folks. They go on to conclude in this article, “We’ve got all the toys. Now we need to relocate the joy.” They were speaking to the restless emptiness of our hyper-affluent culture. The pursuit of happiness is in our national DNA. It’s a part of who we are. Thomas Jefferson engraved it into our consciousness.
Yet, so many seem to struggle in really experiencing happiness. Jesus gives us a radically counter cultural view of how to discover spiritual joy. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Blessed means ‘happy’ or ‘joyful.’ What? How can He relate ‘poor in spirit’ with happiness? Well, ‘poor in spirit’ means recognizing our need for God. It is the opposite of arrogance. Arrogant people say, “I do not need God. I am self-reliant. I am self-sufficient.” That’s very much a part of the American way. Jesus is trying to help us understand something deeper. This is really about humility. And humility is the one virtue, when you think you have it, you just lost it. It’s something that man does not come by naturally. You’re never going to discover ultimate happiness until you have enough humility to recognize you need God. Without Him, you’re going to miss the ultimate meaning of life. Without God, lasting happiness is unattainable.
But there is more! The end of this Scripture also comes with a promise. Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Once we come to be poor in spirit and recognize our need for God, then we have the opportunity to claim the grace and forgiveness of God through what Christ has done for us on the cross. And then, we can enter in to the kingdom of heaven! The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are one in the same. They are used interchangeably. What is the kingdom of God? It is wherever Jesus reigns. If He reigns in your life, then the kingdom of God is there. If He reigns in your family, the kingdom of God is there. If Jesus reigns in your church, the kingdom of God is there. If He reigns in a ministry where you serve, the kingdom of God is there. Wherever Jesus reigns, there is the kingdom of God. It doesn’t mean in the future – it means right now – in the present. And once we enter the kingdom of God through faith, we stay in the kingdom of God, as a child of God, forever! Only in the center of God’s will in His Kingdom do we discover ultimate happiness.