Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
- Matthew 5:6
“Why do we not have this hunger and thirst? Why are our souls not as hungry and thirsty as our bodies are? Bodies that have no desire for food are sick. In the same way, our souls suffer from sickness when we do not seek after the things that satisfy them, nor the food and drink that come from God.
“The soul’s food is truth and righteousness. To know good, to be filled with it, to strengthen ourselves with it – this is the spiritual food, the food from heaven, that we need to eat. So let us reach out and eat it. Let us be hungry for it. Let us stand before God as poor beggars that wait hopefully and expectantly for a little bread. Let us be aware of our weakness and our failure. How terrible for us if we forget how weak we are!
“Let us read, let us pray, with that hunger to nourish our souls and that burning desire to quench our thirst. Only a continual great desire to be taught by God can make us worthy of discovering the wonders of his law.
“Each of us receives this sacred bread to the extent that we desire it.”
- François Fénelon, Meditations on the Heart of God
For those who are wondering, my wife should be out of surgery by the time this is posted, but I may still be at the hospital with her. I hope to return home later and post something tomorrow morning for an update. She is scheduled to come home tomorrow.
When I grew up, the term “Jesus Freak” was a term for someone who had gone too far in their piety and zeal. I was taught to not go that far. Going too far would make it hard for anyone to take me seriously. It would make it hard to get a job or a promotion. Yet, the book Jesus Freaks, by D. C. Talk, tells about people who have become martyrs in the name of Jesus. Is being a martyr going too far? Were not the disciples, who became apostles, martyred? Were they not commissioned by Jesus to teach us in what we should do? I’m not saying to become a martyr, but we should hunger and thirst for righteousness, and then see where that takes us.
Is there a thing called ‘going too far?’ During my working career, I had bosses that wanted me to lie to a customer. I had bosses that wanted me to fudge on an invoice. One boss greatly overcharged a company for my services. I complained, thinking it an error, and I was told to keep my mouth shut. My verbal agreement in the negotiations was never put in writing. The customer knew he had been treated unfairly, and we lost a customer. Of course, the boss bragged about the profit, and he may have given himself a bonus as a result or gotten one from his boss. Of course, I barely held onto my job, being warned that if I mentioned this issue or complained about a similar issue in the future, I would be fired. He can’t fire me now. Hmmm. Fired for being honest? Is that what we have come to? Is being honest equal to being a Jesus Freak?
I have avoided parties that were essentially keg parties. I would die of thirst, if I had gone, as I do not drink beer. Wine and a mixed drink maybe, but I never developed a taste for beer. I have left other parties early when the only thing remaining was getting drunk and doing things that were worthy of blackmail. Does that make me a Jesus Freak?
But what does Jesus want of us? He wants to be our brother. If you had a brother, remember when you were both kids. There were times when your brother let you down or wasn’t there for you, but there were other times that your brother, especially an older brother as I had, was the one person that you wanted to be more like.
But maybe you didn’t have a big brother or a big sister. Were you a sports fan in your youth? I loved Johnny Unitas. There were many quarterbacks that may have been more athletic, but Unitas was a winner. He was a passing quarterback before it became the norm. I rarely got to play quarterback in the empty lot next to my grandmother’s house in town, but when I did, I copied Johnny Unitas in movement and posture. For those that know, that wasn’t pretty. We’d run a series of sideline patterns from one end of the lot to the other, pretending to run the famous Unitas two-minute drill. If he didn’t invent it, he perfected it.
If you mentioned that you preferred baseball over football, when I was in Little League, I saved up my breakfast cereal box tops and sent off for a vinyl record of Stan Musial explaining how to hit a baseball. It came with a photo album containing photos of Stan the Man in every part of his batting stance and swing. Stan the Man was left-handed. Being right-handed, I propped the pictures up in front of the mirror so that I could copy the mirror image of his swing. That summer, I was able to play better while batting than any of the following years. We moved and somehow the book and vinyl record did not get packed.
If my remembrances of my youth are simply unique to me, you might have known that kid in school that you wanted to be like. You dressed like them. You combed your hair the same way. You bought a pair of shoes like the ones they had. If you copied every aspect so that everyone knew who you were copying, that might have been taking it too far. But you can imagine wanting to be the cool person at the cool table.
Now, as Fénelon writes elsewhere in his book, we call Jesus our friend, but why do we not copy the mannerisms of Jesus? Why do we not want to spend hours each day trying to learn everything about Jesus? Why is this desire, this hunger and thirst, not so palpable that we taste it, every hour of every day?
Maybe the desire to be more like Jesus is that strong in you. As Fénelon writes in the quote above, only with this type of desire can we truly learn the wonders of God’s law. For what does Jesus promise? If we love Him so much that we hunger and thirst to be righteous as He is righteous, we will be filled.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.