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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Friday, November 02, 2007
Blessed are ...
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." - Matthew 5:6 [ESV]
There are, I suppose, many ways to interpret the Beatitudes; how we have interpreted these can say a great deal about what we think of God, and how we think Christianity works.

For example, some read this and they interpret it in this way: God will bless anyone who hungers and thirsts after righteousness by satisfying their hunger and thirst for righteousness.

In this scheme God sort of obligates Himself to bestow a specific blessing upon the believer who has the good sense to hunger and thirst after righteousness; it is a transaction model - we purchase the blessing from God by meriting it through our hunger. Man initiates, God responds.

Those who take this approach to the passage see their relationship with God in that light - they are the ones driving the relationship by doing such things as hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and God is always responding to their efforts by blessing them when they do good and by not blessing them when they fail to do good.

The individual's understanding of his or her relationship with God therefore is that it depends entirely upon his or her ability to maintain it. Whenever the individual fails to pursue God, the relationship suffers, and the individual is to blame, and whenever the individual is actively pursuing God the relationship grows, and the individual gets credit for that as well.

The individual who embraces that sort of interpretation typically equates spiritual immaturity with personal laziness. The reason some Christians don't grow is because they haven't picked themselves up by their boot straps like we have, and the only way to make them do that is to coerce them into action either by brow beating them, by terrifying them, or by romancing them, but spiritual growth is something they have to initiate, and all manner of encouragement is given to get that ball rolling.

Another way of understanding the passage would be to say that the blessing is not earned by performing the action, but rather that it is the blessing itself that produces the result described. That is, when you see a person who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness, you are looking at something that the person did not produce, but rather that God produced in the person - you are seeing the visible evidence of God's blessing. The person who hungers and thirsts after righteousness does so because that hunger and thirst -is- in and of itself something that God has blessed the person with - and that they are blessed indeed, for God will satisfy that same hunger and thirst in the future.

In this model, because the individual understands that it is God who is producing the hunger and the thirst within himself or herself, the individual will by no means take credit for what God has produced in them, but can only glorify God in laying that crown at his feet, and thanking Him for his grace towards them. This one will have grace for those who lack the same hunger and thirst, because he knows from where these things come, but will instead turn to Him who provides and ask the blessing for others.

It is remarkable to me that two Christians can share an identical hunger and thirst for righteousness, but understand the same so entirely differently. The one imagines that because he himself generated it he himself must maintain it, and anyone who doesn't follow his example in hungering and thirsting for righteousness is therefore at best insincere, and at worse a charlatan. The other understands that God is the one who has blessed him with this hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and so it is pointless to insist that men generate it themselves, but instead turns the eyes of all towards the God who has so graciously done this work in them. This one isn't trying to produce in someone else a similar trait, but is merely directing the praise and glory back to God. He may well pray and ask God to magnify his glory by blessing someone else in a similar way, but the driving motivation is not for God to "make men righteous" - but for God to magnify his glory in making men hunger for what is right.

I wonder if it is really all that subtle?

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posted by Daniel @ 9:47 AM  
2 Comments:
  • At 12:58 PM, November 02, 2007, Blogger mark pierson said…

    "you are seeing the visible evidence of God's blessing. The person who hungers and thirsts after righteousness does so because that hunger and thirst -is- in and of itself something that God has blessed the person with - and that they are blessed indeed, for God will satisfy that same hunger and thirst in the future."

    Excellent!!!

    This is where the concept of "grace upon grace" is seen, in that God rewards and or blesses on top of what He has blessed. It's the same with our crowns. The works we do we do because He both led and enabled us to do them.

    To God alone be glory!

     
  • At 1:33 PM, November 02, 2007, Blogger Marcian said…

    Mark, Daniel, you've both given me a lot to ponder.

    I must start making time to do that. It's becoming more of an imperative of late.

    M

     
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