Today I’m writing about something that’s been coming together as a collection of different thoughts over the past week.
The Hunger of the Poor in Spirit
At the beginning of term I wrote on my hand ‘MMH’ (Make Me Hungry) because I had been reading and thinking about an idea that God comes as close to us as we permit him to (think Matthew 7:7). Therefore, I reasoned, if God wasn’t as close as I wanted him to be, then it was perhaps because I wasn’t allowing/wanting him to be. And if that was the case, perhaps I needed to look at how much it was that I was truly longing for God’s presence, how much hunger I had.
I was lead to a place of praying that I would know more of what it is to be dependent on God, to always recognise Him as the source of life, and to have a hunger that reflects that of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, which begins:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
A prayer to be made hungry.
The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who know that they are poor in spirit, those that are fully aware of their dependence on grace, those that seek out God because nothing else satisfies.
They are those that take up the invitation found at the very end of the Bible in Revelations 22, to come and drink from the living water. An invitation still on my mind a couple of weeks on from when I wrote about those words (My everything & my All in All).
To be poor in spirit is to be confident in the riches of the kingdom. To be poor in spirit is to be wholehearted in pursuit of it. To be poor in spirit is to be hungry.
So let me be hungry.
What having this hunger means
On Sunday I had a conversation with the guy I’ve just started dating, and he shared something that had been challenging him. There’s a verse in 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul writes about how it is that our faith is orientated around the historical death of Christ and his resurrection from the dead. Verse 19 says the following:
19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
i.e. if our faith turns out to be false, then, of everyone, it is us that should be pitied. If you are wholehearted in pursuit of a kingdom which does not exist, then you are to be pitied because a wholehearted faith alters the way you are living and not in a way that works to your material good. But if the hunger you have as part of faith is for a kingdom that will never be realised, then such faith is a tragedy.
Because a hunger that leads you to give everything up for that which satisfies is only of value if the something that does satisfy actually exists.
When the Bible uses the language of taking up your cross daily (Luke 9:23), it does this because the self-denial faith demands cannot be done justice through any imagery, other than that of death and resurrection. Spiritual hunger will take you to a place of living out that self-denial. And if that self-denial is comparable to death, then a life comparable to a resurrection better follow.
Hallelujah, I believe it does! But since I believe that a life comparable to resurrection is promised to those who follow Jesus, then the challenge spoken about on Sunday stands. Am I living in such a way that if my faith is not true, I am to be pitied? Am I ready to live a life that is faithful even when that looks like the unglory of everyday obedience in hard places? Am I ready to go where it is that hunger leads?
I pray to be made ready to go where it is that hunger leads.
Hunger leads to Christ
Every Monday I study the Bible with Tom in the philosophy faculty, and this term we’ve been reading through a couple of chapters of Romans each week. The imagery of death and resurrection I mentioned above, I saw last week in Romans 6:
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
And this Monday we reached that wonderful bit in Romans 8, which speaks of the fact that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Before the most oft-quoted verses comes verse 35:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
I want to be hungry for the love of Christ to the extent that the sweetness of the life that only He gives is worth the price of anything and everything that life on Earth could give me.
So let me be hungry.
A different type of hungry
Last Friday, because Siân was here, India, Cos and Izzy made a wonderful wonderful dinner of veggie lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and a pear and chocolate desert. It was truly incredible.
You know the reason that scripture uses the language of hunger and thirst? It’s because we can all #relate. As I ate the amazing meal cooked for me on Friday, I experience me the kind of shadow satisfaction of that which is given to the poor in spirit as they receive the kingdom of God.
So let me keep praying for hunger.
And may the fullness of life that is given to the spiritually hungry and poor in spirit also bring joy. Preferably joy of the kind Cos experiences in relation to making garlic bread with Lurpak spread…. 😉