In January I stepped on the scale and discovered I was at my peak weight. So I got serious and lost 27 pounds before Easter. I had several strategies, but mostly I was trying to eat more fruits & vegetables and less of everything else. And along the way I discovered something: Your diet is working if you’re dreaming about food at night. When we dream our minds generate images that reflect some of our deepest yearnings.
Along the same lines, it used to be that my favorite part of holiday season was the gift exchanges. That was back when I was a kid. But in getting older I’ve looked forward more to the family meals. It usually happens with Thanksgiving and/or Christmas; we share homemade foods around a common table, with most of the family together.
It’s sad when members of the family can’t be together. Circumstances of military service, incarceration, health, or travel issues get in the way. And the death of a loved one really leaves a huge vacancy. Maybe this is the reason Jesus described heaven as being like a big meal where the whole family is together again. In Matthew 8:11 He said “…that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”
This is also in line with Jesus’ teaching in His fourth beatitude (in Matthew 5:6): “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” A parallel version is in Luke 6:21a with a corresponding woe in 6:25a: “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied… Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.”
The emphasis in Luke is on a great reverse with God’s fulfillment in the larger course of time. But in Matthew the focus is on yearning for the right things. We all have our yearnings, ranging from core items on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (food, water, shelter) to the emotional/spiritual things that are associated with self-actualization. For Jesus it’s important that we crave the right things. And in His subsequent teaching we can see what He means by “righteousness”…
By contrast, a healthy spiritual hunger means being ready to discern what God is doing, and to gain what God would give from any experience – even if it’s a bad one. There’s a brilliant quote from John MacArthur, Jr.: “I can recognize somebody who is seeking righteousness, because when God brings devastation into his life, he is filled and satisfied. He receives it of God, even though it’s painful. …trials can be as sweet as the good times because God is in them and is working His purposes, making us more righteous.”
God bless you,
Andrew McHenry, Pastor – First Congregational Church
The blog of Andrew McHenry, Pastor of First Congregational Church of Emporia, Kansas.