Monday, August 1, 2016

1 August 2016
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
                                                                                                Matthew 5:6 (NRSV)
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters…”
                                                Isaiah 55:1 (ESV)
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”      John 7:37 (ESV)

            Good morning, and happy August. I hope you all had a blessed and restful Sunday, as much as you were able. Today we look briefly at what hungering and thirsting for righteousness might mean in spirit and in practice. Theologians have written for centuries about the righteousness of God; defining it here is way beyond the scope of this simple blog. The overall point in these verses seems fairly straightforward, however-righteousness, however one chooses to consider it, comes from God alone. We ourselves have none. The Biblical witness, from Genesis to Revelation, is clear on this point. Equally clear is the promise-anyone who comes to Christ seeking righteousness will be satisfied.
            Note the language here. Everyone who comes, anyone who thirsts, whoever drinks. Jesus opens His righteousness to anyone who comes; this is a basic, foundational principal of the Kingdom. Later in Matthew we see Jesus pronouncing woes on the Pharisees for ‘[locking] people out of the Kingdom of Heaven” (23:13-14). Notice here it is the religious leaders of the time locking people out, while the God whom they claim to serve is busy inviting people in.
            For our part-and I say this in the full realization that many may strongly disagree on this point-I believe we are called to do the same (invite people in, not lock them out). How? Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary (attributed to Francis of Assisi; whether or not he actually said it is open to debate). Maybe a better way to phrase it is ‘do not withhold the Gospel from anybody’. I realize we are straying into the realm of evangelism here but I want to make one last point-this is an invitation. An open invitation, but an invitation none the less. Isaiah invites. Jesus invites. We invite. The telling is ours; the acceptance is not.
            There is also a social justice aspect to hungering and thirsting for righteousness, a desire to see all people treated equally, and fairly. This means we ourselves must set the example by treating all people equally and fairly, as much we are able. Care for those who, for whatever reason, cannot care for themselves. Care about those whose beliefs or lifestyles or expressions of faith we may disagree with or even find offensive. Care without a judgmental or condescending attitude; but rather with a desire for the righteousness of God to touch to them as God has touched us. We are all equally needy here. Jesus promises us “A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over” (Luke 6:38). Why? So the running over may overflow to those around us, all those around us in our day to day lives.
            Are you seeing a pattern here? It is an attitude of the heart that, by realizing the truth of how we relate to God (rather, how God desires to relate to us), enables us to see how we relate to others as well. We find our place here on earth by finding our place with God, who is right here with us. When we recognize the need for righteousness in ourselves we are less inclined to condemn that same need in others. In a very real sense true social justice is simply recognizing the Imago Dei in all humanity, and acting accordingly. So open your heart, and your mind. You just might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
The LORD bless you and keep you this day. JRG

No comments:

Post a Comment