By Kimberly Davidson
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
Everyone hungers and thirsts. When I’m especially hungry pizza and a cold Dr. Pepper sounds so good. Our bodies require food and water to survive. Yet spiritually and emotionally, people differ in what they hunger and thirst for. Some crave accomplishment, some recognition, some desire another person to complete them, and for others they hunger and thirst for material things. For these, Jesus has no promise of fulfillment. For those people who set their minds on true righteousness Jesus gives his word—they will be satisfied.
Righteousness means “In accordance with virtue or morality; without guilt or sin.” Righteousness is the worthiness to stand in God’s presence. The moment we accept Jesus Christ, God declares we are no longer condemned sinners. Instead we are forgiven and we receive Jesus’s righteousness. We are then fully pleasing to God Almighty!
Much of our anguish results from unfulfilled desires. Too many of us feel “something” is missing. Many Christians call it a soul hole. Our soul hole will remain unfulfilled as long as our worldly desires take center stage. That hole was designed solely for God and eternal satisfaction in him. When we try to fill it with temporal things our hunger and thirst is never satisfied. Temporal things and substitutes always fall short.
Psychologists Tim Clinton and Joshua Straub, authors of God Attachment, stated that neurobiological research says that “at some point in your life, whether you think seriously about it now or not, you will face your need for something more—your need for a relationship with God…But the bottom line is this: You will have to make a choice—a choice that will lead you in only one of two ways, either toward God or away from him.”
We were created to enjoy the pleasures of life and gifts from God, but we were not created to be filled by them. We were created to be filled by God himself. His righteousness, in other words himself, is the ultimate soul hole filler. He is what we truly crave. When we miss seeing this we run after lesser things. It’s easy to do when you’re bombard by thousands of advertising and media messages each day. If we want to impress people with our own brand of righteousness we will never be filled up. When we realize that our own inadequacy and starvation for fulfillment comes from outside ourselves—far beyond our own abilities—then we are able to receive the real Bread of Life and the River of Living Water—Jesus Christ.
God is telling us we must make a break from the world, from this culture. We have a choice—to stay as we are: disillusioned and safe, but tragically unfilled. Or we choose to know Jesus. It is not enough to merely know truth, as in head knowledge. We must ingest God’s Word so it transforms our very soul—it affects our attitude, how we behave, and how we relate to others. When truth is lived out it results in living authentically. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to transform our thinking and, as a result, our lives. The truth is, being the person God wants us to be requires a total sell-out. It requires falling in line with God’s ways. Sadly, many say, I don’t want that! They’ve already eaten the bait—the lies.
Not too long ago, I was in an airport security line. I exchanged pleasantries with a sweet smiling senior woman standing in front of me. Post screening, she collected her things off the security belt and approached two airport employees standing a couple feet away, “Do you know where (something) room is?”
The man on the left answered, “That’s in Terminal B. Do you know where that is?”
She replied, “No, I don’t.” He then gave her directions. "Go down (blah, blah)…turn and cross (blah, blah) then turn to your right and follow the corridor halfway down (blah, blah). It’s right there."
The poor woman, only half-comprehending what he said, started turning about blindly. Then the other man spoke, "Come with me. I’ll take you to Terminal B." The first man told her the way; the second man became the way. Too many celebrities model the wrong way. Jesus tells us that he is the one and only Way: "I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6, NIV). As the way, Jesus becomes our path to the Father. As the truth he is the materialization of God’s promises. As the life, he joins his divine life to ours—now and in eternity.
If we want to lead an authentic life, Jesus must become our Way as he did for the disciples. More than any other disciple, Matthew knew how much it would cost him to follow Jesus. Yet he never hesitated. When he left his tax-collecting business, he became permanently unemployed. For the other disciples who were fisherman, they could always return to the sea. For Matthew, there was no turning back.
Two changes happened to Matthew when he chose to follow Jesus. First, Jesus gave him a new life and new identity. He not only belonged to a new group, he belonged to God’s family. Previously a despised tax collector, now he was accepted and worthy to be called a disciple. Second, Jesus gave Matthew a new purpose for his skills. He became their record keeper.
The disciples were ordinary men whose lives were transformed by the power of God. The formation of a close, trusting relationship with Jesus had a great effect on their sense of worth. Jesus met Matthew’s need to feel valuable and loved. He gave him a sense of belonging. And he meets our same deep needs.
Scripture says, “Far better to take refuge in God than trust in people; far better to take refuge in God than trust in celebrities” (Psalm 118:8-9, MSG). Acknowledge you may have attached yourself to someone else or a culture’s false ideology, belief or behavior. Come to Jesus and ask him to help you to begin throwing those illusions out and to fill you up with his righteousness.
Close your eyes, step out of your world and imagine Jesus with outstretched arms saying, “I am offering you a most glorious, fulfilling, and meaningful human experience—righteousness.” What is your response? “Maybe. Let me see if something better comes along.” The truth is, it is a myth that the Christian life is dull—far from it. God will open doors you never imagined!
Tim Clinton and Joshua Straub, God Attachment, (New York: Howard Books, 2010), 45