“Blessed are the meek…” and “The fruit of the Spirit is love…” So begin The Beatitudes and the Fruit of the Spirit, two of the most beloved passages in the Bible. Each provides incredible wisdom about what makes for a good life. But what happens when we bring these nine teachings and nine fruit together? Daniel Fusco, author of Crazy Happy: Nine Surprising Ways to Live the Truly Beautiful Life, believes an incredible biblical synergy forms a beautiful and surprising invitation to the deep happiness we desire. It’s so simple and so profound we might even be tempted to call it “crazy.” It’s a grace to welcome Daniel to the farm’s front porch today…
Obadiah, Maranatha, and Annabelle. Those are my three amazing kids.
And let me tell you—I have yet to experience another joy equal to the joy of parenting. Don’t get me wrong, it can be hard…but it’s the best thing I’ve ever poured my heart and energy and life into.
That said, getting my kids out the door and headed to school is actually one of the most excruciating things my wife and I do on a daily basis. It’s not for lack of trying.
But no matter what we do, I’ll just be honest with you. To quote David Bowie, “It ain’t easy.”
But once the kids are in the car, and we pull out of the driveway, then, like the calm after the storm, our morning gets really fun.
You see, morning car rides have become one of our favorite family prayer times. We take time to bring our day before God, and prepare ourselves for what it will hold.
In Matthew 18 when Jesus talked about entering the kingdom of heaven like a child, I believe He meant more than we usually think. It’s more than just having childlike faith. I think He meant that kids are simple, and we need to become like that too.
There’s a simpler way of seeing the world. Kids have it. Most grown-ups don’t.
As we get older, we become more complex. We become more self-aware. More insecure. Life spirals from there, seeming to get more complicated every day. Sooner or later we wind up realizing that relationships seem so much harder than they used to, so much more painful.
Sometimes all this “growing up” keeps us from experiencing all that God has for us in Jesus. This is the drama of life. It’s also the problem of life. It, for good reasons or bad, becomes why it seemed so easy once (for most of us) to be crazy happy. It’s why it feels so much harder now.
But deep down, we all remember a better way. But what’s hard to own sometimes is that our biggest source of complexity is us.
Jesus was strong in His simplicity. So is it any wonder that this real Jesus launched His famous sermon in the Beatitudes by reminding us of this crazy way of life? He paints a beautiful but shocking picture of what a really blessed life is, starting with how we enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3 (NKJV) reads: Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
What’s fascinating about Jesus is only He would start out with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Think about this! Let it sink in. He’s saying, “Oh how lucky are the poor in spirit!” Can we all agree that nobody talks like that today?
None of us feels lucky when we’re being humbled, do we? Talk about crazy happy!
This is one of the primary reasons our Western society today has issues with the real Jesus.
Somebody who is poor in spirit is by definition acknowledging their spiritual bankruptcy—they know they aren’t enough. In our highly individualistic, “work hard, play hard” society, the idea of spiritual poverty flies in the face of our value sets, especially the cultural movement to value our sense of self above anything else.
When we love ourselves the way culture encourages us to, we end up narcissistic and self-obsessed.
Yes, under the banner of God’s love for us, we should love ourselves. But that love isn’t a self-focus—it comes from walking in the reality we are loved by God. Ironically, it’s by taking our eyes off ourselves that we can see and value who we really are.
Humility calls us to see things the way God sees them….and see ourselves the way God sees us. That we are broken and flawed. That we don’t get everything right. And we are helpless to heal ourselves on our own…(Ouch!)
God’s beauty rises up from the ashes of our humility. Then, humility throws open the gates of the kingdom of God and leads us into the potential of a truly beautiful life.
When we let go of our desperation to be right, we grow in our willingness and desire to walk in what is right…when that shift in our mindset happens, now all of a sudden we begin to say, “Lord, I need you”—and really mean it.
We start to recognize the reality that He who began a good work in us will continue until the day of Christ Jesus—so He’s not done with us yet, in other words.
So humility gives us access to the kingdom of God, which is just another way of saying humility gives us access to Jesus. In other words, without humility, we have no access to Jesus. Being proud is not just a sin. It’s the root of sin. It is distance from our impossibly humble God.
Here’s the deal: if you would not call yourself poor in spirit or humble today, then you’ve actually left the place where Jesus meets you.
He starts with humility, and the beauty that comes from loving others. We’re supposed to dwell forever in humble gratitude for our salvation, at the foot of the cross, and share that with everyone around us.
That’s how Jesus works. When we come to Jesus in poverty of spirit, He is faithful to bear the fruit in our lives He wants to bear.
He doesn’t leave us as orphans. He helps us love others in the way He’s directed us to live. The fruit of the Spirit is love. (Galatians 5:22)
But as good as this beautiful life is, this is only the beginning.
Poverty of spirit is the doorway to the kingdom of heaven, where we begin to walk in love for God and humanity.
That means that when love begins to take root in our hearts, we’re only standing on the threshold of all the beautiful fruit God wants to unfold in our lives.
Daniel Fusco is an author, a church planter, and the lead pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, Washington. His radio program, Jesus Is Real Radio, is broadcast across the country, and his TV show, Real with Daniel Fusco, airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel. He’s written articles for CBN, Preaching Today, Relevant, and USA Today, and is a regular contributor to Roma Downey’s LightWorkers.
There’s no shame in wanting to be happy, but true satisfaction often eludes us. Here’s the truth: wherever we hunt for happiness, we’ll wind up shortchanged. Why? Because plain and simple, the only reason we’re so often unhappy with our lives is because we don’t see our lives as beautiful. But God wants something better for you.
In Crazy Happy: Nine Surprising Ways to Live the Truly Beautiful Life, Daniel Fusco unlocks the happiness we’ve always longed for in a place that seemed too obvious to look: the teachings of Jesus and the apostle Paul.
[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]