Summary: Waht it means to desire God.
Sermon on Mount
Blessed are those who thirst and hunger for righteousness
In Matthew 5:16 Jesus tells us to live in such a way that people would see our lives and give glory to God; in the Lord’s prayer his first petition is to hallow Gods name on earth as it is in heaven. In the beatitudes, Jesus’ aim was to create a lifestyle in his followers that would make people think about the value of God, or to glorify God. These beatitudes are totally counter cultural and totally counter cultural to the American church.
There is good reason that this is fourth on the list. We need to understand our need for God before we are driven to God for grace. We cannot manufacture or do ’these’. I have written in my bible by this verse, ’people who want something give evidence to that.’ If I want righteousness I will give evidence to that desire. Do I give evidence of this in my life? If we did a time study and tracked everything you did in a 24 hour period, would you time give evidence to your hunger and thirst for righteousness (here of later – t, t, t)!
1. I must have an appetite
What does it mean to hunger? To hunger means to have a strong desire, appetite, feeling in your gut that only grows until it is satisfied. It gnaws at you. It creates a level of discomfort that seeks to be relieved. It is not something you can easily ignore. Thirst is the same way. Hunger seeks to be filled and thirst seeks to quenched. Food and water were scarce commodities in Palestine yet they are not optional items for survival. You cannot get along without food and drink. The people that were listening to Jesus were familiar with periods of famine. The Jewish people knew what it was like to hunger and thirst in the desert and then to have God himself provide for them with manna from heaven. This provision was a gift of grace - shall be filled. Jesus also knew what it was like to hunger having fasted for 40 days in the desert.
Why does Jesus use the illustration of longing? These two appetites, for food and drink are givens in life. There is a longing in the human heart. You have heard me say numerous times that Pascal says that there is a God shaped vacuum in the human heart that seeks to be filled. CS Lewis says something like ’if there is a longing in my heart that this world cannot satisfy then it tells me that I was not made for this world.’ St. Augustine said, “Thou made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it rest in Thee.” We will be driven to fill this longing with something, either with God or some substitute for God. This truth is why the grass always looks greener on the other side. It is why things get boring and we long for some other experience that will give us more of a thrill. It is why we look for newer and better trucks, snow machines, vacations, houses, project, etc. This world cannot satisfy that longing or desire yet we continue to go from one thing to the next seeking to fill it. The things this world has to offer does satisfy this desire only temporarily, then we look for some new thrill to satisfy. Everyone of us can identify with this – snowmachines or four wheelers, houses, jobs, spouses, shoes, jewelry, etc. These two words are conveying a spiritual reality that is as basic and needful as physical need for food and drink. We experience them everyday so we can identify with the metaphor.
Yet most of us never experience hunger or thirst because we eat before we ever become truly hungry. Most of us eat when our stomachs are empty before we get hungry. I fasted for an extended period of time one time. When you fast for a long period of time you lose your appetite after the third day and then do not regain it until after your body is finished burning all your exess fat and then it starts eating the body tissue. I am afraid many of us are like that. We have not feasted on Jesus or have not tasted and seen that the Lord is good for so long we have lost our appetite for him.
2. I must Not settle for anything less than Jesus – sub to 1?
We get as much of God as we want; nothing more and nothing less. We are settling for what CS Lewis says are making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. We hunger and thrist for other things instead of hungering and thirsting for God and we get what we want, a prostitute that has made a promise to us that she cannot and will not keep so when we are done with her or she is done with us life is still empty and the craving for something else something more, is still there. Yet we are left by ourselves to pick up the pieces.