Material or spiritual?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

Matthew 5:3-5

Dear members and friends,

A very common mistake that all humans make is thinking that what we believe to be valuable and precious is also valuable and precious to God. In the Bible, God tries many times to correct this erroneous assumption yet we read that humans continually insist that their values should be accepted by God as such. In a way, it is an inevitable matter because we begin our life here on earth and are raised within the norms and values created and taught by human communities. The irony is that despite learning and understanding that God dwells in the spiritual realm where the material world cannot exist, humans still cling to their material values and ideals.

Now for Christians, the heart of Jesus’ messages is the kingdom of heaven, which is eternal life. In the Four Gospels, Jesus makes the point very clear that the qualities acceptable to heaven are different from what the material world values. In John, Jesus answers Nicodemus by saying, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (3:5-6) Here, we find two different uses of the word “spirit”; one with an upper-case S and another with a lower-case s. However, in Greek, both are from the same root word, peno, meaning breath, spirit, or wind. Simply put, what the Gospel of John indicates is that the word’s origin defines the state of it: what is from God is spiritual, while what is from the world is materialistic. Thus, Jesus makes it clear that there is a huge difference between what is of the body (human nature or materiality) and what is of the spirit (essence of life). According to Swedenborg, this message points out the truth that when we transition into the spiritual realm, what we have cultivated internally will become permanent parts of our true self, while all the materialistic things and matters in and from this world will be left behind with our physical body. 

My brothers and sisters in God, let us take a moment to reflect on what we truly believe within our hearts. I suggest we take this verse from Psalm 40 into our hearts:  “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” 

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee