“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6.
For the last week two weeks, I’ve been in Malawi, one of the southern African democratic countries. I’ve been here training some of the poorest pastors in the world when it comes to those who work among evangelical churches in the gospel ministry. This is my fifth trip to this little country that has so many who are void of material possessions, wealth, the basic necessities for good health, and even void of many of the educational opportunities we take for granted.
Many times, church members and Christians ask me why I travel so far to reach people when there are so many right around our church in Sherman who need to know the basics of the gospel, and who need help both spiritually, physically, and even in training in the scriptures. They desire our community to have some of the same opportunities. The simple answer is that we do offer the same kinds of opportunities on Sundays and Wednesdays, but that the people on this side of the ocean may be a bit less hungry (spiritually speaking). Now, I know that sounds offensive, but think with me for a moment about what most Americans claim.
They claim to have heard the gospel, understood it, received it and they ask us to please not come knock on their door because if they want any more teaching on Christ, they will visit our churches. But on Sunday, many churches sit almost empty because the hunger is just not there.
We know there is still a lot of confusion among our own people about what the gospel is, about true salvation, but yet most claim that they have no need of any teachings concerning the basic principles of Christianity. The majority claim they have arrived at all the knowledge they need, all the faith to make them complete, and they are content with where their relationship with God is going. But Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness…”
Most of us would admit that we aren’t so perfect that we do not need Christ’s forgiveness, and most of us, (if we’re honest) could point to many areas of unrighteousness in our lives, so why aren’t we more hungry spiritually? We’ve heard the message so many times we’ve become numb to the cross of Christ. We’ve heard the gospel — the life, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ, and how to apply it to our hearts, so much that it has become stale bread and lukewarm water to our spiritual palettes. We aren’t hungry for Jesus anymore. We don’t want what He has to offer.
The nations of the world in spiritual darkness are hungry for Christ’s light, but America is bored with Jesus. We will listen to anyone else, any other message, but don’t preach Jesus because we aren’t hungry for that message. But can we change? Recently, my wife has been trying to put me on a diet, and I need one, but diets aren’t usually easy for me. Changing appetites can be hard stuff. We must begin to change our appetites too for spiritual things. We must avoid worldliness, the pursuit of pleasure, the lust of the flesh, and the empty pursuits that we run after.
In the epistle of I John, we find a letter written to encourage us to love not the world because it is passing away. We find a letter that encourages us to walk in the light instead fulfilling the deeds of darkness. We find a letter that tells us to stop hating our brother, but to love others. The letter of I John also tells us that it is the “Last Hour.” If you’ve been watching the news at all this week in the U.S., then you’ve been seeing some pretty historic things happen (at least biblically speaking). This is the 70th year of the state of Israel’s return as a nation, and secondly, our government and president just recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This is a big deal to Bible scholars who know the importance of the number 70 in Old Testament History concerning Israel. It was the number of years Israel spent in Babylon. It was the sum of two numbers multiplied that signify completeness for Israel (Seven times 10). More than just a few pastors I know would find great significance in the events that have occurred this week. But almost 2,000 years ago, John told us we were in the “last hour.” If he believed we were close to the return of Christ two thousand years ago, then how much closer are we now? The time to stir up our hunger for Jesus and our affections for the things of God is now. We should not put off changing our worldly appetites, and replacing them with a deeper love and concern for the presence of God in our lives. Christ is calling us to return. Blessed are those who hunger for more of Jesus.