3 Ways to Increase Your Hunger & Thirst for Righteousness
I hope a careful reading and pondering of the beatitudes each Sunday has been doing something to shift the way you see and act in the world. That's surely been the case for me. We've already heard some of Jesus's unlikely "blessings" - blessed are the undeserving, the down and out, the strong, silent ones. This week we arrive at the fourth beatitude in our series “The Good Life”.
It goes, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Mat. 5:6)
It's always interesting to think about what Jesus could have said. If he had stuck to the pattern of the previous beatitudes, for instance, he might have simply said, "Blessed are the righteous..." But he doesn't, does he? Instead, he takes a few extra words to explain "those who hunger and thirst for righteousness."
This suggests that Jesus might be talking more about the posture of a heart rather than a state of being we can somehow earn or achieve. He's begging the question, WHAT is your heart set on? Do you hunger and thirst for justice? The phrasing also suggests that the job isn't done yet. Righteousness is a lifelong pursuit. Shalom - holistic peace amongst humanity and the earth we inhabit - is yet to come.
But what if your heart isn't there yet? What if you're just hungry and thirsty for a Habit burger and a shake? I would say try something new. Sometimes putting our bodies and minds into action actually trains our hearts to bend towards righteousness. Sometimes we just need to want a hunger and thirst before we actually have a hunger and thirst.
Oceanhills family, I want to give you 3 ways to practice your hunger and thirst for righteousness this year:
Read (or teach math or science) in a classroom at Franklin Elementary for one hour each week. In Luke 3, Jesus proclaims that in his coming Kingdom, "every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain shall be made low." In other words, we'll all be on an even playing field. There won't be the advantaged and the disadvantaged anymore. Oceanhills is living into that reality now. And we're doing so by making sure no child gets forgotten in the classroom - that every child has an equal opportunity at success! To find out more or to get involved in helping a teacher once a week, reach out to email@example.com. If school hours are hard to make for you, there are plenty of other ways to jump in! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give an international student a warm welcome to Santa Barbara with International Students Inc. (ISI). Did you know? Before there were hotels or even restaurants, the earliest Christians were known to be the most hospitable people around. Weary travelers would walk into a town looking for rest and refuge and they would ask where the Christians lived! That's because travelers and strangers knew that in these households, a warm meal and a guest bed were waiting for them. The hotel as we know it only came about because Jesus's followers were modeling a radical kind of hospitality. God's heart for the stranger and the newcomer is no different today. We're called to welcome them. ISI is asking for willing families to host 1-2 new international students for dinner. Not a huge commitment. Not very complicated. These students just need the love and light of Christ as they come to Santa Barbara.
Set the table for our neighbors without homes. We're always looking for servants to jump into setting up and bringing food to our monthly Alameda Meal Share. As winter approaches, we will need even more help preparing food in partnership First Presbyterian Church. They will be hosting a warming shelter for the extra-cold-and-wet winter nights, but they'll need a great group of on-call servants to make it happen!
BONUS: make this a practice with your whole community group. Sign up by emailing email@example.com and specify how you'd like to serve our homeless brothers and sisters.
I'm praying for us, church. May we be those with a sincere hunger and thirst for righteousness in our own lives and in our city! Jesus's promise is sure: we will be satisfied!
Hungry and thirsty,
Director of Compassion, Mercy, and Justice