When you’re starving or stressed, what comfort food do you tend to reach for?
True confession: Back in the day, I suffered from an undying weakness for chili cheese dogs. Although I still like them, my resistance is much stronger now. But earlier in my life, if I was running errands around lunchtime, I usually found myself at the local 7-11 convenience store holding a hot dog (of questionable ingredients), squirting a mysterious chili sauce out of a dispenser before slathering it with an equally mysterious cheese-y, plastic-y substance. Needless to say, I could have just as easily rubbed it directly on my waistline, because that’s where it was going anyway.
Despite my wife’s protestations and threats, I continued to pony up to the trough at least once a week. Even the slightest hunger pang (real or imagined) or stressor was enough to justify my questionable eating habits.
My point is this: all of us ultimately fill ourselves with whatever we’re hungry for.
What are you hungry for? Think beyond comfort food like cheetos, chimichangas, and chili cheese dogs. Deep down, what is your deepest desire?
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 6:5).
Reading my Bible earlier this week, I couldn’t move beyond these words from Jesus.
What am I hungry for? I asked myself.
Often we can only answer this question when we’re stressed out or no one is around. This question really drives us toward our inmost motivations.
Earlier this week when asking some friends what people hunger for, they quickly identified the more obvious answers:
Those are easy answers, but they still skirt the issue. What are we really hungry for?
Understand that Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for significance, for they will be filled.” He said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (italics added).
What kind of righteousness was Jesus talking about? Doing good things? Living a holy life? Engaging in social action? Receiving the righteous perfection of Jesus?
Later, in the same discourse, which we call the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus exhorted his listeners, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
Let me add one more passage that might help us clarify things. God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
So what should we seek?
Years ago when I was in college, I had a roommate for a short time who had a pretty dramatic story. His freshman year, he attended a large public university. And, like many college students, he indulged in the excesses common to a college campus. But midway through his first year, he was stricken with a mysterious infection in his blood . Doctors could do nothing to stem the bug that was slowly killing him. “I knew I was dying,” he confessed to me.
Then one day, a nurse walked into his hospital room. He had never seen her before, but that significant tidbit meant nothing to him at the moment.
As the nurse cleaned his room, she began looking at different get well-cards that lined the window sill. One card contained a bumper sticker that said something about Jesus.
“You don’t want this bumper sticker, do you?” she asked mockingly.
Then my roommate uttered something totally unexpected.
“If it has anything to do with Jesus, I want it!”
Immediately, the nurse walked up to his bed and announced to him that he would get well and would one day become a pastor. When she finished, she walked out of his room—never to be seen again. In fact, the hospital couldn’t identify any employees matching the description.
My roommate quickly recovered and was released from the hospital within weeks. He experienced not only a dramatic physical healing, but a spiritual one as well.
But my roommate’s comment tells us what I think Jesus was saying. When we hunger and thirst for anything that has to do with Jesus, we will be filled: his ways, his character…him! “If it has anything to do with Jesus, I want it!”
All my life, I’ve felt this inward compulsion to make a difference for God. As far back as I can remember. I’ve hungered for it.
This week I realized that while trying to make a difference is a noble pursuit, it still falls short of the noblest pursuit, the pursuit that will ultimately fill me. The desire to make a difference ultimately places me at the center of my world.
This has begun a reordering of my private world.
Hunger and thirst are essential needs. Without having them filled, we die. Jesus is calling us to himself. He is the giver of life, the only one who can satisfy.
Everything else is just a chili cheese dog.