Hungering for Righteousness

A few years ago, I would have called something like this a coincidence, but have now learned to see them as “God moments,” where the Spirit is trying to tell me something. At church we have been taking a look at The Beatitudes. A few weeks ago, the unthinkable happened. I was finished with my sermon early. I told our music director that it probably meant that the boys would arrive early. Sure enough, the second was born at 10:46 on that Sunday…just as our church family was gathering for worship.

What was the God moment? Our passage was Matthew 5:6:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.

For the last two weeks, my wife and I have spent a considerable amount of time in the NICU with our boys, with the primary focus being on them learning to eat. I’ve shared some lessons from that time already, but as I prepare to finally preach on this message Sunday another truth has come to my mind.

I understand hunger. In fact, it is embarrassing how much of my life feels like it is planned around not being hungry. Have you ever picked a restaurant just because you knew it would leave you obnoxiously full? I have for sure. I know that being full is way better than being hungry and so I often plan my days around eating.

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So imagine the feeling this week watching and waiting for my sons to make the connection that if only they would eat, things would be better! I would say things like “If you’d just eat this, we promise to leave you alone.” The NICU is great and our boys were well cared for. It is also not home. Waiting on this milestone has allowed me to see hunger from another perspective.

I imagine when Jesus says that we are blessed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, he does so because he knows that those things can only be found in him. We have been created in the image of God and because of that I believe that there should be a desire for the things that God desires. I know that in my own life I have never regretted being obedient to the things that God has commanded me to do. On the other side, some of the deepest pains have come from my disobedience.

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Richard Rohr and NT Wright are among a group of scholars that believe that we have used the word righteousness in the wrong way, when in truth it should be justice. The depth of scripture is that both can be true: We must hunger for our own righteousness, but we also must hunger for justice for all people.

Our desire to see things made right is a good thing. Knowing the love that God has for us and knowing that the hurt in this world is not what God had in mind, we should hunger for righteousness. I make sure that I honor God with my actions. At the same time, I have to remind myself that it isn’t about me in the first place.

As believers, our actions must always be kingdom minded. We should desire to daily be the hands and feet of Christ in the places where we have been led. We should see people hurting and have compassion on them, withhold judgment, and be a friend. We don’t concern ourselves with making only our lives better, but the lives of everyone around us as well. When you see someone that isn’t treated well, it should bother you. When you know that there is a hurt, you should work to help heal.

As I sat and waited and cheered and hoped for my sons to transition from hunger to fullness, I think God looks down on us in the same way.

Some days God looks down on me and cheers! “He gets it!”
Some days God is upset because I’m not doing as I should. “I wish he understood that I’ve created a better way..”
But no matter how I respond each day, his presence and his faithfulness are constant.

In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that he has come that we might have life to the full. The best hope that we have of finding satisfaction in our lives is only when we are fully committed to finding our place in serving for the good of the kingdom. We should desire our own personal righteousness and we should also look at the world and have a strong desire for justice. HenryFeed3

If only we would understand obedience. If only we would work to fight oppression, hurt, and injustice in the world. If only we would fight to make sure that all people know that they are loved and valued.

Then, and only then, will be be truly full.

Obnoxiously, gloriously, tremendously full.

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