March 1, 2012: The Ninth Day of Lent

March 1, 2012 § 2 Comments

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” ~ Matthew 5.6 ~

The poetic progression of the Beatitudes continues. As we become aware of our own spiritual bankruptcy and repent of our sins, God brings about a desire in us for things to be made right. We see our own deficiencies in our relationships with God and others that we live with, and we begin to desire that these relationships be strengthened and that the wounds we carry be healed. Christ describes this desire in terms of physical necessity. One does not survive without food and water, and so this craving for things to be made right should not be seen as a want but a need.

But what is righteousness? We may have heard at some point that “righteousness” means, “right-standing with God.” Jesus’ audience would have heard the word and thought of living according to the Law of Moses. But, as we will see later, Jesus does not define “righteousness” by the Law of Moses alone; and, indeed, if you choose to be righteous by that measure, you have a difficult road ahead. The Hebrew understanding of righteousness involved proper behavior and conduct, both with God and others. However, Jesus ups the ante by placing this Beatitude within his teaching progression. Our righteousness, our way of living, must be governed by gentleness. Proper behavior, conduct, and relationship with God and others are governed by gentleness, grace, and forgiveness in God’s Kingdom.

Don’t we yearn for this? A reality where we lay aside selfish ambition and old grudges; where we can trust others and be freely trusted. A kingdom where both God and his creation are given their proper place. This is the Kingdom of Heaven; Christ says that those who hunger and thirst for this will be satisfied. When we look around, we can easily see that righteousness is not the norm. However, we can also see the Kingdom of Heaven breaking into places, much like rays of sunlight reaching through clouds to shine on the earth below. You might recognize here part of the “already-not yet” idea we talked about. Christ does not promise immediate satisfaction here; but he does promise that our deep yearning, our need for righteousness will be satisfied in his Kingdom, when the Kingdom comes fully.

In the meantime, as ambassadors of Christ’s Kingdom, we should be aware of what Christ stirs in us. In what ways do we long for righteousness? Is there a particular relationship that God is placing on your heart that needs healing? Perhaps it is your relationship with God himself. Or maybe there is an aspect of the world you live in that saddens your heart; God is drawing your attention to it. God desires to fix the broken places in our lives and in our world as much as we need to have them fixed. Today, listen to these desires of your spirit; and listen to what Christ would say to you about them.

Lord Christ, I see my brokenness and the brokenness of the world around me, and I desire for things to be made right. Things can’t be fixed fast enough! Help me to place myself in your hands, to treat others with your love and grace, and be your ambassador in a world that desperately needs you. Speak to me on how to do these things. Amen. 

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