What are some of the things you hunger and thirst for? For me today, I’m thinking of pumpkin pie. Maybe it’s seeing all those doggone advertisements for lattes and candles and popcorn and ice cream and everything else imaginable that is now “pumpkin spice” flavored…
But on days that I’m not consumed with a craving for pumpkin or coffee-flavored items, and thinking about more noble goals, I remember this catchy beatitude from Jesus:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Now, I know the word “righteousness” has a bad rap. Sounds condescending and self-righteous and maybe even arrogant. What’s so noble about THAT? We’ve got far too much of that in the news these days, and it doesn’t do anything but depress and suck good energy out of life.
But, of course, there is so much more to this word, which actually means “to be in right relationship with yourself, with God, and with others.” Right relationship. This means personal integrity in aligning your walk and your talk with compassion and truth—and along with that, righteousness is about paying attention to social justice for others whose needs are overlooked by many. Most of us tend to find our way to this wonderful state of being described by Jesus through either the door of introversion or extroversion…
Introverts often tend to awaken to the holy in the world and discover their own righteousness through living with great intentionality in their personal spheres. They read, journal, learn meditation, attend prayer groups, study scripture, and sometimes attend events at faith communities. They take seriously the epic words, “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.”
Extroverts often find their way through the door of righteousness by becoming passionate about community. They may or may not have interest in faith or leading a self-examined life, but they attend every rally and march, canvas their neighborhoods, call their legislators, and donate to multiple non-profits—all the while probably working for one themselves.
The thing is, people who begin their journey in “right relationship” by going inward, find that the Love they find there dries up if it isn’t carried out into the world. And people who start by going outward into community to care for inequalities and injustices, find that they get burned out and bitter if they don’t find a spiritual practice of going inward to renew their own soul.
It’s a feedback loop of the best kind. Tending to God-within leads us to want to love the world in the incredible ways we discover our own lives touched by grace, and tending to the suffering of the world leads us to eventually see God within the creation we encounter in our social justice work, including our very own soul.
Blessed are we, the introverts and extroverts, for our own unique paths toward salvation for the world are perfectly divine in all their surprising twists and turns.