Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Today a mother and father wept as they buried their son in Ferguson, Missouri. The story has flooded us for the past two weeks. Two friends were walking down the road. They were instructed to take to the sidewalk. There was some sort of struggle. Minutes later, one was dead. Witnesses seem to have differing accounts in the details, but it is difficult (to say the least) to imagine how it would become necessary for a policeman to fire all of his bullets into an unarmed young man.
Today there has been a call for justice to be done on behalf of Michael Brown Jr. The hunger and thirst for righteousness in times like these is visceral. It needs no explanation. It can be seen in the courage of those who stood in front of police in riot gear. It can be heard in the words of the Reverend Al Sharpton: “God will make a way for his children. I’ve been to the end of the Book and justice is going to come. Justice is going to come.” The hunger and thirst for righteousness can be felt gnawing at the empty stomach of anyone keeping up with the news.
This coming Thursday will mark 51 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood in our nation’s capital and spoke of the bounced check of equality that had been handed his people. Dr. King had come to Washington D.C. to cash the check that would bring substance to the promise of the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all people. He spoke with hope. He spoke with determination. He spoke with a hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Today, we grieve that precious little has changed in the past 51 years. But our grief is not enough. What we need is an insatiable hunger to see justice winning the day. What we need is an unquenchable thirst for righteousness to overcome us.
Here I break from what I want to write and enter into what I feel I need to write. The world, I fear, is too preoccupied to hear this message, or any like it. We are accustomed to quick solutions, to easy answers, and to a continual stream of new news to keep our lives exciting. The Michael Brown story will most likely be covered until a bunch of influential people get bored, and then the story will go away for a long, long time.
Somebody will get our attention when their shirt becomes unbuttoned at right time. Somebody else will then take their attention when the news leaks out that they are gay, straight, Catholic, or Muslim. And the news will continue to cycle through stories. Odds are that in two years this story will have faded into the background. This is the way of the world, and I am afraid not much can be done about that.
But what about the church? Are we so swept up with news of Mark Driscoll’s public disgrace that we are willing to abandon our heritage as those who hunger and thirst for righteousness? Are we so satisfied with the failure of others that our hunger wanes? Have we drunk enough at the well of our own self-righteousness to hold us over?
Or will the church’s innate hunger and thirst for righteousness overwhelm us? Will the Spirit of God cause us to be so unsatisfied with the mess that we find our collective selves in that we begin to dream of a land where justice flows down like mighty rivers? Will we hunger and thirst enough that we begin to play with the possibility that the day of justice is now? Will we allow ourselves to hope that recklessly even in these times?
And what will be the result of our dreaming?