Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Sermon on the Mount

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Later on in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus makes this statement:

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

These verses are the core of what it means to be a disciple. Surrounded and even suffocated by a culture of hedonism, humanism, and powerless religion, it is very easy to be assimilated into “a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof are the ways of death“. The first sign that the faith we call “Christianity” has been changed into something else is when those who profess such a faith have lost any hunger for righteousness.
I do not endorse any kind of legalism, but what I refer to is the complete absence of desire for leading a life that is marked by humble righteousness and the desire for more. And this righteousness cannot come through outward acts of religion or even acts of humanitarianism alone. The righteousness of Christ worked out through a believer’s life must always include an unmistakable attachment to His name and kingdom. There should be acts of humanitarianism, philanthropy, and all sorts of acts of love, as well as an open and passionate sharing of the gospel. All of which must be covered in humility and meekness.
The Scriptures teach us that when a sinner believes on Christ he is given the gift of righteousness, Christ’s righteousness, and that gift comes solely by faith. We have no righteousness of our own, and in fact the very things we think are righteous are the most clandestine kind of self righteousness. Any pursuit of God’s righteousness must begin with a rejection of our own false righteousness. And if we have no righteousness except His, what room is there for pride or boasting? And if we cannot boast, then what right do we have to condemn others?
Even though we are completely righteous before God, what righteousness are we suppose to pursue? This is the practical righteousness that emanates from and manifests the inward righteousness given to us from our Redeemer. But like I have said, these acts must be connected to Jesus. An unbeliever gives a cup of cold water to a thirsty person. That is good comparatively, but it cannot be an act of righteousness. A believer gives a cup of cold water to a thirsty person and says “Take this in Jesus’ name, sir”, and that is an act of righteousness.
So often “orthodox” churches are content with being righteous in doctrine and in their standing before God while neglecting a pursuit of working out that same righteousness. And so many times believers think that by not smoking or drinking or going to the theatre they are exhibiting righteousness. On the other hand many “liberal” churches are not concerned with doctrine and believe that humanitarian acts make them more righteous before God. And some times they do not care about personal habits that are a compromised lifestyle. Both constructs are flawed. We must do better.
In the general sense a hunger for righteousness is a hunger for more of Jesus and an unquenchable desire to walk "in His steps”. And if we stand upon the uncompromising platform of faith in Jesus as the exclusive Savior of mankind, then we are called to work out that faith in ways that draw sinners and saints to desire more of Him. And I firmly believe that the only way to seek more of Him is through prayer and a relentless pursuit of Jesus through the revelation of the Scriptures. Only then can we not only know what He is like and what He would do, but only then can we know Him.
We must look at the Scriptures beyond just being a collection of teachings and narratives. We must look at the Scriptures as windows through which Christ and His kingdom can be found. So often the church has used the Word as a club that can be used to condemn others, or a cold collection of doctrines that must be analyzed over and over. One church studies the Bible like an algebra book while another reads it like interesting stories. But we must search the Scriptures like parts to a treasure that feed the soul and give glorious revelations to a glorious Lord.
With so many Bibles available and with so many commentaries and study guides, many of which are good, we have subliminally ascribed the Bible to some type of religious academia and have neglected the spiritual aspect of its meaning and the indispensable way it sustains spiritual life. It is not the quantity of Scriptures you read, it is the quality of how you read. Do you read or do you consume? That is the core element in hungering and thirsting for God’s righteousness.
And God promises those who do so will be filled. Please notice the prerequisite for that filling is hungering and thirsting. This is where we must take honest and painful inventory. Are we passionate about God’s Word and seeking His kingdom? Does it motivate us like other things do? Do our minds rush to meditate upon His words and are we excited about spending time within the pages of Scripture?
Have you ever slid into bed at night and before you fell asleep you realized that you hadn’t eaten all day long? But have you ever slipped into bed without reading the Scriptures or spending time with God all day long? What does that tell us about where our appetites so often lay?

Lord, give us a hunger and thirst for You and Your kingdom,
and fill us with the knowledge and experience of You.

1 comment:

Sei ermutigt said...

Let's meditate upon God's words and be excited about spending time in and exploring deeply the pages of the Holy Bible.

Let's resolve and commit ourselves to be passionate about God’s Word and seeking His kingdom.

Jesus is the exclusive Savior of mankind! Sinners and saints, may God so bless your lives that you desire to know more of Him.

A hunger for righteousness is a hunger for more of Jesus and an unquenchable desire to walk "in His steps”.

The best way to seek more of Jesus is through prayer and a sincere pursuit of Jesus through the Scriptures.

Yes, let's dedicate ourselves to diligently study the treasured holy Bible, so that God can graciously feed us and give us more life-changing revelations of Our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

Josef Sefton