Those who hunger and thirst...
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
If you are looking to find a lot of idealists and dreamers to spend some time with, I would suggest visiting a college campus. Specifically, a college which strives to recruit those who plan on being entrepreneurs, musicians, and scientists who cure cancer before the age for 30 so they can then retire early and save Africa. Believe me, I don’t mean to put down the energy of youth. In fact, I miss being in my 20’s and seeing the world a bit more like today’s college students. There is something beautiful about believing the world is a much simpler place than what it really is.
The reality is this, we need the dreamers and idealists of the world. We need people who believe the answer to poverty can be found in just explaining and inspiring the wealthiest 1% of the world to be less greedy and share with those who don’t have the same access to education, capital, and distribution. We need people who remind us that everyone making small changes has the potential to add up to huge impacts as we consider recycling programs. We need people who see disproportionate numbers of minorities in our prisons and ask hard questions which make the rest of us uncomfortable. We need these people in our world.
In the 4th Beatitude, Jesus addresses these people specifically when we calls blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and promises them that, someday, their hunger and thirst shall be satisfied.
To hunger and thirst is not something most of us understand in the same way those Jesus was preaching to would have understood it. Very few of us have gone more than a day without something to eat unless it was by choice. Even fewer of us have had to search for safe drinking water for any length of time. Because of this, we miss some of the urgency this passage is trying to convey. I would suggest to get a small sense of the urgency in this passage you instead remember that feeling when you are sure the next movement will mean your overly full bladder will empty regardless of your proximity to a bathroom. Or even more so, that moment when you realize that stop at Taco Bell for lunch is SO not agreeing with your digestive system and you are on the road, miles from the nearest rest stop. Now multiply that sense of urgency many, many, many times over and you will begin to understand the passion for righteousness which Jesus is calling blessed.
Righteousness here has two components, a vertical one and a horizontal one. Both are equally important and relevant. The vertical component is about our relationship with God. It is the yearning one can have for God’s rule to be complete in our lives. It is the desire to uproot the sin in our lives and become more like Jesus with each passing day. It is keeping our vision fixed on heaven and letting this desire to dwell with God be our single motivation in striving to live the life God has called us to live on this earth.
The horizontal component is seeing and being truly grieved over the state of our world. It is the desire to see Christ return and set right the corruption, inequities, gross lack of integrity, and moral compromises which abound in our world. It is looking around and being unwilling to simply sigh and shrug off the lack of justice and purity as an inevitable part of this world but doing what we can do, no matter how small, to change the world around us.
Restlessness and longing to change the world are not new. They are universal traits of the human heart. This hunger and thirst for righteousness is something which, to some extent, is hard wired into each of us. The challenge become to let God direct it so that, one day, it may be quenched as Jesus returns and the world is set right.
- I once heard someone say we should be asking our teens and young adults what they want to do for a job, but what injustice in the world do they most want to be part of fixing. We should let their answer to this different question then be what guides their career choices. So I pose the question to you: What injustice in the world do you most want to be part of fixing? And then I ask, what practical, hands on, right now steps can you take to be part of the solution?
- What did your teenage/young adult self dream of doing to better the world that you have since lost? How can you re-capture some of the dreamer/idealist part of yourself despite the curveballs the world has thrown your direction?
- How can you support a teenager or young adult in your life who is ready to take on the world and change some injustice once and for all?