In Australia it’s very unusual to be accosted by a beggar. It’s also very confronting. When it does happen so many things go through your head. It’s not like meeting a busker, they are usually passive in their appeal. Beggars are in your face, they demand a response. When I meet a beggar I immediately wonder what has brought them to this point, are they using drugs or alcohol and will any money I give them just go to fuelling their addiction. I would certainly never expect them to have something to give me, but the reality is, each one has a story to tell.
This is the story of a beggar who lives in an impoverished country where there is no social security system to provide for the poor. Instead, the beggar scavenges through refuse bins, begs in the streets and knocks at doors looking for food. He lives from day to day on whatever he can beg or appropriate. Our story begins in a time when things have been particularly tough, the bins have only tiny scraps of food and many doors have been shut in his face. In desperate need he realises that he must find someone to help him and he knocks on a door in a neighbourhood he’s never visited before.
To his surprise the person behind the door hands him a loaf of bread, a block of cheese and some fruit. He is amazed at this bounty and he decides to return the next night where once again he is offered food and some clothing. The person behind the door also suggests that he should bring his friends next time to share in his good fortune.
The beggar goes back to the transient community where he lives and excitedly tells the other hungry people there of his good fortune and the offer that has been extended to them. He is so happy to have such good news to share, but to his surprise the response from his fellow beggars is mixed. Many laugh at him and suggest he is playing a joke on them. Others just don’t believe him. Some decide to watch him to see if he follows his own advice and returns to his new benefactor. Sadly, only one person joins him that night when he goes to the door to receive sustenance. For the rest of his life he never gives up, he continues to invite his fellow beggars to come to the benevolent benefactor.
Christians are like that beggar. We have found a benefactor and He has offered us the bread of life. He has also instructed us to go out and share this good news. It is, at first, a surprise to discover that others are often either distrustful or sceptical about the wonderful discovery we’ve made. We want to shout it from the rooftops, “We’ve found the bread of life, come and meet Him and receive the gift of eternal life.”
Jesus began His famous Sermon on the Mount by telling His listeners:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:3)
We are all “poor in spirit,” we all need the infilling of the Holy Spirit, which imparts to us the wonderful gift of eternal life. Spiritually we are all beggars, we desperately need God to fill us with His Holy Spirit. Jesus goes on to tell those who had gathered to listen to Him on the mount:
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Mat 5:6)
Between these two verses we find:
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the humble: for they shall inherit the earth. (Mat 5:4-5)
When we turn our eyes to eternal matters we can only mourn. If we have not yet met the Saviour we might mourn for our own spiritual poverty. If we already know Him then we mourn for the lost, who are yet to meet Him and distrustful of His offer. To meet Him we must learn humility. We are superior to none. All that we have that is of any spiritual or temporal good we have received from God. When we come to this understanding we have a humble attitude towards our Creator, and this leads us to hunger and thirst after righteousness, because it is only as we have His righteousness imparted to us that we can commune with the Father. Our awareness of our own spiritual poverty leads us to the benevolent benefactor, who fills us with God’s Holy Spirit and promises that we shall not only inherit the Earth, but that we will also find ourselves citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah also mentioned those who would be blessed. He said:
….. blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jer 17:7-10)
Later Jeremiah warned unbelievers:
….. all who turn away from God will be disgraced. They will be buried in the dust of the earth, for they have abandoned the LORD, the fountain of living water. (Jer 17:13)
God the Creator ensures everyone has an opportunity to hear His message. He wants people to know that we must choose to come to Him and receive His gift of eternal life, or turn away from Him and be buried in the dust. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told His listeners there will be a judgment day, and after that day, only those who listen to and follow His teachings will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, those people who have accepted His gift of eternal life. As Christians we are compelled to share the good news of the bountiful benefactor, even in the face of scepticism and ridicule, the message He has given to us is too important to keep to ourselves.