The following is part of a series of articles.
It is a satire.
The idea behind this series is simple: What if Jesus and his "blessed" statements - his Beatitudes - were being "collaborated" on by a modern Christian Public Relations Consultant?
"BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE, FOR THEY WILL BE SATISFIED."
Ahh! So sweet. You're making me nostalgic, Jesus. See, when I was a kid, I always loved when the missionaries would visit us at church. They would tell great stories of the people they worked with and served, and we would get all worked up into a frenzy! Between their passionate pleas (and a little well-timed guilt), we would feel so "on fire" for the work being done. How lovely that this is what they did with their lives! We were so glad to receive updates before going back to our American lives outside the mission field.
As I grew up, I began to see that Americaland was a mission field too! But not in the sense of practically loving and serving and being with people - more in the sense of talking people into agreeing with doctrines about God, or voting a certain way, or being a culture within its own bubble so that people know they can come to us when they're ready. I also realized that it's important to know my apologetics so that I always win an argument. You gotta have an answer for everything! And I tell people the TRUTH whether they want to hear it or not! Ahh... I've grown so much!
I still think it's good to have our missionaries remain concerned with taking care of people in the third world... But to me, it's clear that we have no need of the same here. I just don't think systemic injustices - cycles of violence, inequity, inequality or poverty - could ever apply in the good ol' US of A! If people have a problem here, they're probably just lazy, and they shouldn't be getting any handouts. We need to be more concerned with not enabling people than we are with taking care of their practical needs. When they're ready to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and conform to our standards, the church [bubble] will be waiting for them, and ready to hear that testimony!
Sure, it's nice to leave all your ideas going on... elsewhere. Across an ocean or something. But we don't need it to define who we are or even be the signpost of who we are becoming. Especially not in our politics... Man, keep the social justice causes away from Christian politics! That is just a non-starter for us Evangelicals. You won't get anywhere. And I'm not so sure you need to. We're just fine doing things our own way! If you want to keep your fans, listen to me and listen to me good on this one, Jesus. You don't want a platform of this social justice stuff. They will crucify you out there!
That's the way I see it, and I think you'd totally agree: There is simply no need to look over our own context to see how we can best enact righteousness. If I take your meaning biblically, I know "righteousness" implies right relationship - that is, harmonious, intimate connection to all things. In the Bible, that was equated with a covenant faithfulness in both testaments, and its aim was toward social justice and ethics, sometimes called "jubilee" or "the kingdom of God." ...See, I'm already confusing myself, and I'm a pastor! The regular people don't stand a chance to understand these ideas if an expert has no taste for them! It's more than they can handle! I wouldn't even attempt to let them know this stuff and see what they do with it! There's just no point. And that's why I'm bringing you up to speed. Bottom line: I guess we've moved on. The Reformation got all this stuff figured out already, and those guys seemed to think differently than you. When we say "righteousness" now, we're usually just referring to something intangible off somewhere else. It's a detached thing that doesn't have much gravity for us.
So let's remove the "righteousness" part from the equation. It just confuses things.
Now, "hungering and thirsting" on its own, I have no problem with. You'll be pleased to know that we are all about that! We're stoking an appetite all the time! Hungry for more of the God we're dispensing! Thirsty for more of our services! People need more of God, and they're going to get that in our programs! If they feel dependent on their leaders to give them a massive emotional response that they can consume each week, we've done our jobs... I'll admit, what we have going is hard to jibe with what you were saying to the Samaritan woman at the well - all that stuff about living waters and not thirsting anymore? Yeah, I don't get it... We'll have to maybe fix THAT later too.
Which brings me to the "satisfied" part of your statement. I think it's too strong. Filled up entirely? Nah. Gotta leave that door open. Studies have statistically shown that there is a certain way to do faith if you want the people to keep bringing their butts to the seats. What we've found to be most effective is to simultaneously downplay the cause of justice WHILE groveling for “more of God.” Your suggestion is more along the lines that we will find God in the causes of justice and restoration. We can't risk that.
We must always be kept hungering and thirsting in a way that spiritually keeps us going in circles - addicted to recovery, restoration, recklessness and wreck... Rinse and repeat.
We come to "the altar." We "pray the prayer" again, hoping it "sticks" this time or we can get more saved. To that end, we can never truly be satisfied, because that might drive us to get outside of ourselves and our religious cycle. It might transform us in ways that are truly contrary to the broken systems of this world… Which would be like your version of righteousne--
--OH... I see what you did there. Tricky! I'll give you points for that. You almost got me. Anyway, I guess we have to nix the "satisfied" part too. Let's just really hammer that hungering and thirsting stuff, cool?
...THAT WAS QUITE A BIT THAT NEEDED FIXING! WHEW! HERE'S WHERE WE'VE LANDED TODAY:
#BLESSED are those who are well-adjusted to injustice, who hope only in "thy kingdom come" but not "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." May they remain detached from the concerns of this world. And #BLESSED are those who are also always crying out for MORE from (an apparently withholding) God. May they never be satisfied to the point where they stop feeling thirsty and hungry or like they need to get "saved" again.
Well, we're just about halfway through this collaboration. I can't believe how much we've already gotten done. Are you psyched to tackle "the merciful" next? I know I am! Until next time, Jesus!