What do you hunger for? What is the one thing/idea/place/person that you just know will satisfy all your desires? Or do you think that complete satisfaction is an impossible goal or ideal?
Jesus’ sermon about life in God’s Kingdom here and now tells us that complete satisfaction comes when we hunger and thirst for righteousness (as some translations use). Notice Jesus doesn’t say people who ARE righteous are satisfied but those who want righteousness, those who are hungry for it.
What is righteousness? The first occurrence of a character trait being referenced that can be translated as righteousness we have in God’s Story is with Abraham (known then as Abram). We are simply told that Abram believed God when God said Abram’s descendants would outnumber the stars and God counted his belief as righteousness. That’s it. Not ‘Abram saved the whole world’ or ‘Abram did everything perfectly as God told him to’ or ‘Abram conquered God’s enemies’ but that Abram believed God’s promise. Abram trusted that although it had been years since God made the original promise, God would in due time do what appeared humanly impossible. And God considered Abram righteous.
Jesus says we are blessed when we know that this belief, this ultimate trust in God’s Way and God’s time, is life giving nourishment to our souls just as food and water is to our bodies. The blessing of complete satisfaction comes when we trust God.
This doesn’t mean that we won’t ever doubt God or sometimes won’t be able to see any possibility of God fulfilling God’s promises. Abram and Sarai got tired of waiting and took matters into their own hands. And God still fulfilled the promise.
To be righteous, to trust in God, means that we live in such a way that we participate with God in answering the prayer “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And it means that we won’t always get it ‘right’. And it means that God will still use our efforts to bring about good. And it means that God will redeem those times when we get tired of being patient and take matters into our own hands.
Being righteous isn’t about being right or perfect. Being righteous is being who God created us to be, living into the image of God in each of us as we seek to see and respond to the image of God in everyone else. When we follow Jesus with the prime directive of loving as we are loved by God, we will be satisfied and fulfilled in all that we do because we know it is God’s righteousness that transforms this world into The Kingdom here and now. What more could be possibly desire?