At the End of Your Rope: Recognizing Your Need for God
by Greg West
One of the greatest, most loved, respected, read, taught, and studied passages in the Bible is The Sermon on the Mount. You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate the many teachings and themes presented in this passage. Jesus begins his teaching in this well-known passage with the Beatitudes, the famous "Blessed are they who…" sayings taught by Jesus. One of my favorite beatitudes is the first one found in Matthew 5:3, which reads: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Just what does it mean to be poor in spirit? Author and theologian Greg Herrick describes it this way: "To be ‘poor in spirit’ is to come to grips with a crucial, yet disturbing fact. It is the very painful recognition of my spiritual condition before God. I might have been made for a garden but I’m living in a desert! Of my own making!"
Let’s take a look at how some other Bible versions have translated this:
New Living Translation- “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."
New Century Version- "They are blessed who realize their spiritual poverty, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them."
God’s Word Translation- “Blessed are those who recognize they are spiritually helpless. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them."
And I especially like the way Eugene Peterson expresses it in The Message Bible- "You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope."
As for myself, this passage describes my condition before I submitted to the authority and Lordship of Jesus Christ and placed my trust in Him. I had been running from God for years, going my own way, doing my own thing, and living by my own (perceived) worldly wisdom. I was not in financial ruin, I was not a hopeless drug addict, raging alcoholic, or anything else you tend to think of when you think about people who are at the end of their rope, but I was spiritually bankrupt and I knew it. I think it had been gnawing at me in the back of my mind or in the depths of my heart for sometime, just under the surface waiting to be acknowledged, until one day when I simply just surrendered. I guess you could call it my own Damascus Road experience.
I had come to the point where I somehow knew (I’m sure now that this was the prompting of the Holy Spirit) that I was in spiritual poverty, helpless, at the end of my rope. I had come to realize my need for a Savior. That was when I cried out to God, fell on my knees, and confessed that I was in desperate need of Him. Needless to say, He came to my immediate rescue. That was about ten years ago and I have been a follower of Jesus Christ ever since.
What is the number one thing that keeps people from realizing their need for God? Pride. Plain and simple pride. The same kind of pride that led to the fall in the first place, when Satan tempted Adam and Eve with his perversion of the truth in his "Who is God to say what you can or can’t eat?" speech. It’s the same kind of pride that I see on the internet everyday when doing research for my blog. Go to any atheists’ blog and you will see that they go to great lengths to explain why they don’t need God. You can almost feel the contempt in their heart when they spew out things like: "I don’t need your imaginary #%[email protected]& god!!!"
When I think about the world’s philosophies such as atheism, agnosticism, relativism, and lots of other isms, I am reminded of the passage in Romans 1:18-32, which says:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal human beings and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
"Exchanging the Truth of God for a lie"; Does that sound like anyone you know or know of? It does to me. But even though people continue to rebel against God, He still pursues sinners by his Love, Grace, and through his Spirit.
The Psalmist writes "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed are those who take refuge in him." (Psalm 34:8) and in Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
If you are constantly looking for reasons not to believe in God, you’re going to find them, but are you really taking a hard look at the evidence or are you just trying to confirm what is already in your heart; that you don’t need God? Here is my challenge, stop looking for reasons not to believe and look for reasons to believe. If after a hard look at all the evidence you still want to reject God, that is a choice that God allows you to make. We have the freedom to take Him at His Word and accept Him, or we have the choice to reject Him. We are all in need of a Savior whether we admit it to ourselves or not.
Just about every apologetic argument in favor of Christianity can be intellectually overcome one way or another, but I did not decide to become a Christian because it is the the only logical choice, I follow Christ because it is the only choice.