For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 2: 25

 

Most people don’t like to admit that this is our own description, but it is. Every single one of us, all of the people who exist on this earth, wander away from God and so from His righteousness. In fact it often looks as if there is some form of opposite polarity at work in our worlds so that the direction that people go is clearly and stridently away from that of God. The old expression that says that someone “seems to be working at” doing whatever it is that is negative or destructive applies to times in almost everyone’s life in response to Godly living. We wander off by ourselves, and we find ample company for traveling the dark path of sin. Some of these journeys involve epic proportions of waste and loss, while others are short duration afternoon strolls through a place that just seemed to be appealing on that day.

 

Jesus secured the means for our return to the place where life is found on His cross of sacrifice. Christ set out the path that we would need to follow in order to return from any and from all of our wanderings, and He also provides the door to dwelling inside of the Kingdom of the Lord that opens to everyone who will submit and turn to Christ. This journey of return to the place of security and prosperity for our souls that was the dwelling place that God designed for people to reside within in His Creation work is exclusive and it is restrictive, but it is also the only place on earth where true freedom is known. The exclusivity exists because many if not most people will not accept Christ’s gift of grace and offer of salvation, and God desires for people to surrender ourselves and the direction of our lives fully to Him in His fullness of existence. God’s Kingdom on earth and in eternity is restrictive because God limits admittance to people who desire to dwell in relationship with Him. We must want to be there and to enter into the active process of knowing God and of being known by Him.

 

Yet, God works aggressively to overcome our objections to that surrender, and He has done so from the beginning of time. It is a part of the amazing, miraculous, and mystical nature of God that He seeks after and pursues everyone on this earth with some form of His Gospel message of love, redemption, and restoration of relationship with our Creator. Left to our own purposes and devices, everyone does wander away from God. Many of us do it to varying degrees on a daily basis. Still, Christ calls us back to Him, and He takes us in despite the messiness of our appearance or the harshness of the rebuke that we may have thrown at His truth. Christ’s grace is abundant and overcomes all of our attempts at unrighteous thought and action. He accepts our repentance from our wandering ways with ready forgiveness and with full engagement in the transformation of our hearts and minds into people who more fully reflect and indicate the righteous nature that is Christ’s character. As sheep we all do wander, and as our Shepherd and Caretaker of our souls, Christ works continually to bring us home again.

 

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Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5: 6

 

Hunger and thirst are strong motivators for all living things. Both plants and animals are designed to respond to these needs. People are especially well equipped by our Creator to do something about the situation when we lack either water or food. There is nothing accidental or evolutionary about this aspect of how we function. It is built into both the design of our bodies and the mandate that God gave to humans in those early days in the garden. We possess the capability and the authority to meet our needs and to care about and for those of others as we take care of the rest of God’s earthly creation.

 

Jesus was fully aware of these fundamental drives in people. So, when He used hunger and thirst as a descriptive device in this time of teaching about dwelling in God’s kingdom come upon the earth, He was discussing a fundamental reality of how people are designed and about the way that we function. We all experience hunger and thirst, and everyone has desires for certain things. The need to be fed and to obtain water is one of those desires that operates at our core. It does not go away with age, over time, or through developing new habits. However, it can be directed and controlled. We do learn to eat better foods, and we develop the skill to select healthy forms of fluid consumption.

 

So too is the way of our relationship with God. All people have a desire to know and to be known by the entity that made them, a god, if you will, Even people who claim to deny the existence of any form of god are seeking after something that explains their place in the universe. We develop and train our desires by the way that we live, and we form them by the exercise of our faith in life. In desiring to be a follower of Christ, I seek after those things which are His nature and surrender my will to be shaped by His Spirit into a person who functions out of Christ’s character within me. Righteousness is a part of the foundational platform that defines God and that distinguishes His people from the rest of the world. As I grow and mature in my faith in Christ, these basic drives of hungering and thirsting become more and more directed toward thinking and living in response to Christ’s call to discipleship, and He never fails to fill me beyond my need to the point of true satisfaction.

 

Thanks to James K A Smith for helping to shape these thoughts.