Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blessed Are Those Who Hunger And Thirst After Righteousness – SOTM #8

Almost everything we long for is beyond our individual reach. Not always unattainable, but almost always attainable only with the assistance of someone else. We want to be loved but there must be someone to love us. We want prosperity but in our economy our prosperity depends upon the generosity of someone else, or our ability to exploit the prosperity of others. We want health but if we don’t have it we can only hope for its return or seek those who can heal us. We want pleasure but, if it is not to become narcissistic, pleasure depends upon being shared with others. It is difficult to think of anything the human heart desires that it can obtain, unassisted, for itself.

Except righteousness. Jesus said, in the Sermon on the mount, that those who hungered for, and thirsted for righteousness would be filled. I suppose an argument can be made that Jesus was referring to the righteousness that is obtained only through faith in Christ but I don’t think, in this instance, he had that in mind. The Sermon on the Mount is a practical statement about life in the kingdom in which his disciples live, the kingdom of heaven. It is most certainly true that all our righteousness is incapable of making us worthy to stand in the presence of a holy God. For that standing, we depend upon the righteousness of Christ. But Jesus was talking about everyday right living; standing before our fellow beings, having a right attitude, speaking right words, desiring right things, standing for right causes, being “as we should be.” And that righteousness, Jesus declares, is obtainable to those who want it intensely.

And who would not want righteousness? Well, honestly, most of us. It is one of those things we would like all others around us to have – to be. But we gladly and generously make exceptions for ourselves. Agonizing over the unrighteousness of our world is not the same thing as hungering and thirsting to BE righteous. Jesus has already told us that those who mourn over the unrighteousness of the world will be comforted. Here, in this beatitude, he is telling us that citizens of the kingdom of heaven value righteousness enough to desire it for themselves.

When is the last time we heard anyone say, “Oh, more than anything else, I want to be fair, kind, generous, truthful, non-judgmental; I want it so badly that I can taste it!” We can be any or all of them simply by not being unfair, unkind, ungenerous, untruthful, or judgmental. It takes action by no one other than ourselves. In fact the actions of others – either persuasive or coercive – are impotent to make us be “as we should be” if we choose not to be so. We become righteous (as we should be) by ceasing to be unrighteous (as we should not be). But, human nature being what it is, we do not naturally, or easily come by the desire to be “as we should be.”

God has graciously taken care of our inability to be, even at our best, righteous in God’s sight. Through faith in Christ we can stand before God clothed in the righteousness of Christ. But it is God’s desire that we live, in this life – in the kingdom of heaven – “as we should.” How intensely do you desire to do that? Those who “hunger and thirst” to be “as they should be” can learn to “love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly before God.”

So let it be, Lord. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to leave a comment. Comments are moderated and will appear as soon as possible after posting. Follow these steps:
1. Write your comment
2. Select a profile
(Anonymous or Name works best)
3. Select Preview
4. Sign word verification
5. Select Post Comment