Hunger & Thirst
(The Beatitudes #1)
A man worked hard his whole life… having been brought up believing that good old fashion hard work was all that he ever needed in order to be blessed. But without warning, the factory he’d worked at for years suddenly closed its doors… moving to a land of lower wages. This man never did anything other than give 100% at work... but now he wonders if he’ll even be able to provide for his family.
A beautiful child is shown crying on television. Social workers are taking him away because his parents abused him. He’s covered with bruises and upkept. But he’s screaming to top of his lungs because he’s terrified of being taken away by strangers. And in his innocence, this child would rather be with parents who abused him, than with strangers he does not know.
The fact of the matter is: people suffer. Hardship and difficulty are a part of life. Cruelty and injustice and inequities are everywhere. Evil is rampant. We could share story after story (example after example), couldn’t we? There are lots of people in this world who are hungering and thirsting for something better, something more. God’s Word calls it Righteousness.
Of course, the fact of the matter is nobody wants to be hungry and thirsty... if we hunger and thirst we don’t necessarily feel blessed. But Jesus says, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness!” Jesus says such people are blessed… sometimes the word is translated happy, as in “happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
Have you ever been really hungry? Sometimes, during a quiet moment church, you can hear someone’s stomach growling on Sunday mornings. There have certainly been times when we’ve all been hungry… some of us may be hungry right now.
But the hunger that Jesus was talking about is more like that of someone who just plain doesn’t have enough food. Today we’d call them Food Insecure. A person who literally lives in hunger; in need. There are people in our world whose way of life is the way of want… it’s all they know. People who would be thrilled, to have just one decent meal every now and again. That’s the kind of hunger that Jesus is talking about.
Of course, the thirst that Jesus speaks of isn’t our typical thirst either. Thirst was a bigger problem in Jesus’ day than it is for us. There was no such thing as tap water… you couldn’t just turn on the faucet and have water. You couldn’t just run out and grab a Diet Coke anytime wanted one. There were no Circle K stores where you could grab a 64 ounce “Big Gulp” for 89 cents to chug down while cruising the interstate. WELLS, the sources of actual drinking water, were usually few and far between. Most towns had one suitable WELL to serve the needs of everyone. And the quality of the water wasn’t always the best. So thirst was a constant problem, there were many times when it would literally be a matter of life and death. So that’s the kind of thirst that Jesus is calling to mind.
I suppose about the best example that I can come up with would be to imagine ourselves working out in the yard cutting the grass - working in the garden on incredibly hot summers day. The ground is dry it’s dusty. Your throat becomes parched it’s 95° in the shade. The sun is baking you down. You’re way past the point of simply being thirsty. Your throat is tightening up and you feel weak. You can give just about anything, or cool, tall glass of water. Are you feeling thirsty yet?
I wonder, if we, you and I, have EVER thirsted for righteousness like that? Jesus says blessed, or happy, are those who literally long for righteousness that badly.
Let me ask you something: what would it take to change this world, to bring justice and righteousness to those trying to protect themselves from crime? Those who’ve been victims of violence and abuse and discrimination and greed? To the week who are pushed around by the strong? Those who’ve been oppressed by a system that favors the powerful and takes away from those who really don’t have anything left to give?
Listen: God‘s Word says this kind of righteousness, only comes from God. The righteousness we need to fill our hunger and quench our thirst only comes from God. There’s no other source.
Of course, righteousness sometimes gets a bad rap… Mainly because there are so many people who are “self righteous.” The self-righteous are honestly only concerned about themselves. They seem to ignore the fact that God’s word says that none are righteous (in and of themselves), no not one. And all of our attempts at righteousness are nothing more than filthy rags before God‘s holy righteousness.
That’s why I always get a little nervous when we start talking about “those evil people.” It feels “two-faced” and hypocritical at times. Because there’s no doubt, that our world is filled with evil, but none of us are completely exempt from it… We’re all sons of Adam, we’re all daughters of Eve. Therefore true righteousness, true goodness, belongs to God and God alone.
This theme of God‘s righteousness and goodness, is found throughout the Bible. The word righteousness appears nearly 700 times in the Scriptures. God is just, holy, righteous… it’s the very nature of God.
The Psalmist tells us, “praise the Lord according to his righteousness.” “The heavens declare God‘s righteousness!” The 23rd Psalm says that the Lord “leads us in the paths of righteousness.” God is the very source of true righteousness.
Of course, I think the question that we all tend to ask, is... since God is good… and God is righteous… then why is this world so messed up? Why is there so much unrighteousness in this world?
And I think in reality... that the answer to that question, is large part... is because generation after generation have chosen to reject God‘s ways... in favor of the ways of the world. Proverbs 14:12 even tells us, “There’s a way that SEEMS right to me, but in the end, it leads to death.”
Do you know if the whole of this world, would choose to let God‘s Spirit direct their business… their family… their relationships… their politics… in every aspect of their lives… Imagine the incredible change that would take place. This world would be a radically different place if we followed Christ instead of self. We wouldn’t just make a difference... our world would be different. No crime, no violence, no war, no broken relationships, no unfairness, no injustice… Only mercy, grace, goodness.
Of course the reality is, at least for now, righteousness and unrighteousness exist side-by-side. It’s not unlike the parable of the wheat and the tears. Jesus compared God’s kingdom to a farmer, scattering good seed on the ground. But at night, and enemy came and sowed weeds in the field. The farmers helpers were concerned… wondering if they should pull up the weeds. But the farmer said no, I might lose some of the good plants. So wait until harvest time, and then separate the two.
It’s kind a like that with God’s righteousness in the world. Because right now, there are a lot of weeds growing among a good plants. But the weeds have not overtaken the good plants. But now the two exist side-by-side. Jesus says that in the end the two will be separated. There’s no doubt about that. But for now, we as God’s people, are blessed... as we hunger and thirst (as we long) for that day to come.
For satisfaction is coming. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, because they will be satisfied!
Not temporarily placated… but satisfied. Filled. It’s the same thought Jesus used when a great crowd of people were hungry - with nothing to eat, except… for a little boy’s lunch that contain some fish and bread… Jesus fed the whole crowd of 5000 men, not even counting the women and the children, and there were baskets of food left over.
There’s coming a day when there will be more righteousness than we can imagine… we’ll have all of it that we could possibly desire… we’ll drink our feel of it… with plenty left over to share.
But until that promised day arrives. Until we are satisfied by Christ himself... we have work to do.
Our work, is to simply offer this world what it needs. To offer this world Christ.
The fact of the matter is when Christ truly enters the halls of politics, or the board room, or the factory… Or school… Or our church… He brings us into the place where we can sense our need for His righteousness in our world.
When you and I really, truthfully, honestly hunger thirst for Christ righteousness… For the true righteousness that comes from God and God alone… we will be motivated… To do everything that we can… As God’s people… As God‘s chosen children… To share his righteousness… Creating a world where justice rolls down like waters, righteousness like an ever flowing stream.
There is certainly no shortage of injustice and unfairness around us. It’s enough to make us wonder why we even try, at times. But the key for us, as followers of Christ… is to focus so much on God‘s blessings… his goodness and grace and mercy… that we develop a hunger and thirst... a deep seeded longing… to see that goodness and mercy shared with everyone around us.
Sent from my iPhone