Monday, June 9, 2008

Hunger and Thirst

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled" (Mt. 5:6, NIV).

Have you ever been thirsty--really thirsty--for God and His righteousness? Have you ever come to church, or to your private prayer time, as eagerly as you sit down to a good meal after a day of hard labor, or approach a water fountain after a long, hot walk?

If you have to answer "no," don't feel too guilty--you've got plenty of company. Most Christians in wealthy, free societies take our faith somewhat for granted. We treat church as an optional activity or even an annoying obligation; we rarely bother to open our Bibles; and we call it "prayer" when we say a quick "bless the world" before falling asleep.

Why don't we appreciate the incomparable blessing of God's even deigning to pay attention to us? Probably for the same reason that those who have food constantly on hand complain about what they were served for dinner. If we had to worship in secret because there were armed soldiers everywhere enforcing a law against religion--if there were no Bibles available or if we were illiterate and unable to read them--odds are we'd more than appreciate the chance to hear even a little of God's Word. But where there are churches on every corner and Bibles in every bookstore, we figure they'll be there when--if!--we "need" them.

And we forget to be grateful for being saved because we forget what it was like to be lost. How often do you give conscious thought to the air you breathe? But trap someone underwater for ninety seconds and he'll wholeheartedly thank God for that air when he finally comes up. That's how desperate a situation we were in before Christ saved us from our sins--and that's how thankful we should be.

Dying of hunger or thirst is a terrible thing. But being accomplices to our own spiritual starvation is far worse.

The hunger for food can gnaw within
And displace all other concerns:
Would that we were equally hungry for God,
For Whom every pure heart yearns!

The thirst for a drink can burn the throat
Till the stalest water tastes sweet:
Would that we were equally thirsty for Christ,
And so longed our great Lord to meet!

The gasping for air, the search for breath,
Cuts as sharp as a jagged knife:
Would that we were equally desperate for Truth,
And the Spirit that gives us life!

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