I just read in the news that between 1990 and 2014 the percentage of people going hungry in this world has dropped from 18.7% of the total population to 11.3%. An incredible global effort has been reaching out to those who hunger and thirst, because of the fundamental nature of these needs. While this pattern of change is encouraging, over 800 million are still going hungry, and the work toward meeting these needs are not about to stop.
There is another worldwide hunger epidemic that doesn’t get as much attention from the press. It is the deep desire for wholeness and spiritual life, a need only met by the ultimate source of life: God. For humans, the barrier between us and God is sin, and through out the Old Testament we see the attempt to achieve righteousness by following the Law and giving sacrifices to atone for that sin.
Jesus introduced a new mindset:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
We, as sinful humans, cannot become perfectly righteous by ourselves. Entering the holy Presence of God was restricted to the priests, and despite the many sacrifices made, even they were afraid they might die when entering the Holy of Holies. The holy and the unholy don’t mix.
Fortunately this promise of blessing is not for those who achieve righteousness. Instead our longing “will be filled” by someone else, living within us. Jesus said in John 7:37-38:
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
We have this promise of a fundamental need being met in abundance! Imagine what would happen if every one of the malnourished and thirsty people on this planet was offered a full meal and pure water. Those hungry stomachs and thirsty mouths would embrace it readily!
Being Filled: Not a One-Time Event
Even after a lavish meal leaves us stuffed, after time passes we begin to feel hungry again. In our natural digestive system, being filled does not mean the need will disappear. It is an ongoing process of going back for more. For someone living is a chronic state of malnutrition, having the promise that food would always be available, not a one-time event, would be even more exciting and comforting!
I know I still sin. My desire to be “righteous,” or to be able to draw closer to God, does not disappear with one “meal” of God’s grace. The ultimate sacrifice of atonement, Christ’s death on the cross, only had to occur once, but our own need for forgiveness and grace surfaces daily as long as we are on this sinful planet. Yet we are seen as righteous when our sins are blotted out, which is not by our own achievements. Despite our failures, we can go directly to the source of righteousness, now dwelling within us.
How grateful we should be that because of Jesus’ sacrifice the debt of sin has been paid and we can come before his throne of grace clothed in righteousness, filled with his life. But how often do we go enjoy the banquet set before us? When do we tap into the joy and peace and love that he offers to pour into our lives?
Those who are truly hungry and thirsty actively seek food and water. Likewise, it is when we look for Jesus that we will encounter his presence in our lives. He wants to transform us, molding us into perfection, into a reflection of his image—ultimate righteousness.
What about you?
Think of the areas of your life which feel empty or dry. Are you ready to receive the fullness of God’s righteous love there? Give those struggles back to him and allow his grace to transform you.