The New Testament notices things we completely overlook. When Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he is elevating a state which counts for nothing according to our standards—the state of being poor. Today’s preaching tends to emphasize dazzling, easily noticed qualities, like strength of will or beauty of character. We often hear preachers telling us to “decide for Christ,” placing the emphasis on our own effort and “goodness”—things our Lord never trusted. He never asks us to decide for him. He asks us to yield to him, which is very different.

At the bedrock of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is the unaffected loveliness of the commonplace. What I am blessed in is my poverty. If I know I have no strength of will, no nobility of disposition, Jesus says I am blessed; it’s through this poverty that I enter his kingdom. I can’t enter his kingdom as a “good” man or woman; I can enter only as a pauper.

The true character of the loveliness that counts for God is always unconscious. Conscious influence is smug and self-righteous and unchristian. If I start looking for evidence of my own usefulness, I instantly lose the bloom of the Lord’s touch. “Whoever believes in me,” Jesus said, “rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38). If I examine the outflow, I lose the touch of the Lord.

Who are the people who have influenced us most? Not the ones who thought they did, but those without the slightest notion of their impact, those who radiated the unconscious loveliness of the Lord’s touch. We always know when Jesus is at work in someone’s life, because he produces something inspiring in the midst of the commonplace.

Wisdom from Oswald

We are only what we are in the dark; all the rest is reputation. What God looks at is what we are in the dark—the imaginations of our minds; the thoughts of our heart; the habits of our bodies; these are the things that mark us in God’s sight.  The Love of God—The Ministry of the Unnoticed, 669 L