There are a lot of things in life that seem to offer gratification, but nevertheless leave us more feeling more empty than before we pursued them.

When I was a freshman in college, I was eager to make a name for myself at my small West Texas university so I ran for president of my class. It was a vigorous campaign with several of us vying for the position. It was obviously more of a popularity contest than a political run because none of us had achieved anything yet in our short stay at college. I remember clearly the nervous tension I entertained the night the votes were counted. Even though there were four or five candidates, I won on the first ballot and there was not need for runoff. A month of glad-handing and recruiting was over. I do not know what I expected to feel as a result, but I know it was more than what I sensed. I remember feeling so empty. I thought to myself, "Is this all there is?" I had pursued this office with vigor and time. I had now achieved it, but was left completely unsatisfied. It was then that I began to learn the lesson of true fulfillment. It is not found in the things of this world. No matter how lofty the position or how good the accomplishment seems to be, we will always be left disappointed in the things of this world.

Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount presents eight states of blessedness that lead to equilibrium with God. It begins with acknowledging one's spiritual poverty as it is the "poor in spirit" who possess the Kingdom of God. Once one admits spiritual bankruptcy it is natural to mourn the helplessness. There is the promise of comfort for those who mourn. When the repentance from sin and the comfort of God has worked in our lives we are being transformed by the Holy Sprit. The humility that results is very Christ-like. It is then that we learn that it is the meek who will inherit the earth.

In these three states of blessedness, our part has been largely passive. We have had to make conscience choice for the things of God, denying ourselves and allow Him to work in us, but for the most part, the work has been divine. We have received the free gift of His grace and it has had a profound effect on us. In this fourth phase of development toward equilibrium with God action is required. We must do something in order to maintain the relationship that is being established by surrender to the Father. The natural response to what God has done in and for is to to desire more. So the commendation is to those who "hunger and thirst after righteousness."

Being hungry and thirsty are natural states common to the human experience. A person can go weeks without food and days without water, but eventually must consume some nourishment to sustain life. Jesus use these natural common drives to describe the desire of the person who has discovered that there is more to life than the things of this world that do not satisfy. It is natural for that person to want more. It is reasonable to think that seeking spiritual food and drink is a practical as needing nourishment for the body. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. They shall find real satisifaction.

Notice the pursuit is for righteousness. Righteousness is a relational word. It describes how we are related to God. There are two kinds of righteousness. There is righteousness that comes from God and can only be experienced through the surrender of one's self to God. It is initiated by the admission of one's absolute spiritual poverty and the acknowledgement of complete dependence on God for everything in life. This righteousness is real and comes only through reception of the free gift of grace offered through Jesus Christ. He was He who knew no sin, but was made sin for us that we might become the very righteousness of God in Christ (1 Cor 5).

Righteousness describes being right with God. 1 Corinthians 5 describe the mystery, the message, and the ministry of reconciliation that the Father has given to us through His Son. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting our sins against us. He has not only made us right with Him, but has given us the ministry to lead others into the same relationship as well as the message of being made right with God through the truth of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the righteousness of God that we have in Jesus.

The other kind of righteousness, or really unrighteousness, is self-righteousness. This was the disease of the Pharisees. They could crucify our Lord because they felt no need for Him. They had a righteousness of their own based on their works. Their righteousness was anchored in their performance and they had deluded themselves to believe that their effort was enough. They wer blind to the fact that all their labor was futile. Deep down I believe they felt the emptiness that the pursuit of the things of this world produced. Deep down in their innermost self, they felt the disappointment of seeking after thing that do not satisfy. If they could be honest with themselves, they knew they were hapless, helpless, and hopeless, but they could not bring themselves to act on it. Jesus was a threat to their way of life. He exposed the emptiness of their pursuit. Outwardly they showed the signs, but inwardly they were whitewashed tombs.

We can only possess one of these kinds of righteousness. If we have the one, we cannot have the other. They cannot long coexist. This is why the religious leaders of Jesus day were driven to murder him. They refused to pursue real righteousness base on faith in Him.

We stand at the same crossroads. On which will we base our life and to which will we give our energies? Hungering and thirsting after righteousness is an active pursuit. We cannot passive follow Jesus. We must leave our nets and follow Him. Nothing else in this world will satisfy our soul. Nothing else will sustain our spirit. We must seek equilibrium with God with the same vigor we seek to feed ourselves each day. How much more important is it to nourish our soul which is eternal than to feed our face which is temporary? If we would only seek after relationship with the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit with half as much energy as we did to feed our bodies, we would know a level of satisfaction that would sustain us for eternity.

Jesus spoke of "food that you know not of" when he disciples found him at the well conversing with the woman. They is nourishment and fulfillment that no amount of food can provide to our souls. There is sustenance and satisfaction that comes in the pursuit of the face of God that this world can never supply. If the declaration of the Poor in Spirit is "I Can't," and the admission of the Mourner is "I Hurt," and the statement of the Meek is "I Trust;" the confession of Those Who Hunger and Thirst after Righteousness is "I know there is more and I want it." "I Want More!"

We live in a cruel world that promises the moon and delivers the dump. There is no and never will be any satisfaction found in the things of this world. No matter how passionately you pursue it, this world can only disappoint. There is a fulfillment that can be experienced that does not disappoint. There is a satisfaction that can be received but it is only found in seeking equilibrium with God. It is only found in relationship with Him.

Have you come to the point where you know there is more to life, but are not sure where to find it? Are you ready to give up trying what you are trying that does not satisfy? Are you ready to seek something that will fulfill you? There is more and it is found in Jesus. Seek Him with all your heart and He willb e found. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. Pursue Him and you will be satisfied.

TT