When I preach in Brazilian churches for the first time I often ask the pastor to point out to me the finest Christian that attends his church. I ask him to point out the person who most lives the teachings of Jesus found in the Sermon on the Mount.
Nearly every time the pastor will think for a few moments and then point to a small woman. Usually her name is Maria.
As the pastor describes Maria to me she is most often very poor, semi-literate, a maid in someone’s home and living a very difficult life. Even so, she is the finest Christian in his church.
Over time I have come to believe that these small Christian women are a picture of how discipleship is meant to work. These tiny ladies are not the result of years of Bible courses or specialized theological instruction. They are the result of poverty of spirit. They are what they are because they begin at zero each and every day.
Real poverty forces people to live a day at at time. Real poverty forces people to measure life each day starting from a position of dependence. In simple terms the deeply poor know that they have nothing accumulated from which they can live. If they will live today they will receive what they will live on today.
The men and women in our world who learn to live each day believing God will provide for them through Christ become the Christians who most live the Sermon on the Mount.
Maria lives in “receive mode” because she has no alternative. Over time she has learned that “receive mode” (faith) needs no alternative. It works.
Yes, Maria weeps and she is comforted. Yes, her heart is pure and she sees God.
Yes, she is a peacemaker and she is God’s child.
Little by little she becomes salt and light and that is why her pastor wishes his whole church lived like Maria.
These little Brazilian ladies have become my spiritual heroes.
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.