Saturday, February 27, 2010

a deeper hunger

Tata Maka is one of my favorite people in South Africa. He is a faithful member of Harvest Time Ministries in the location of Mandela Park, just outside of Mthatha.

After services, he openly shares his insights with me.

Tata Maka's prayers for regular employment were finally answered several weeks ago. He now works at one of the many Spar grocery stores in town. His job is to bring bread out from the bakery and into the salesroom. He reports that the bread disappears into the hands of eager shoppers as soon as he wheels it out. Some days he runs back and forth, in and out, all day without rest. One day in the process, he heard the voice of God telling him that the people's desperate hunger for bread was but a sign of their deeper hunger for God.

Just today I also read these words from Kenneth E. Bailey in his fine book on the Gospels, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. Describing an experience in the Sahara Desert in which the author and his company went for a day and a half without water, he writes,

"As I staggered on, my mind turned to this verse and I knew that I had never sought righteousness with the same single-minded passion that I now gave to the quest for water" (Bailey, 2008: 77). The verse, of course, was the beatitude of Jesus: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Mt. 5:6).

Bailey concludes: "This Beatitude makes clear that the bless-ed are those whose drive for righteousness is as pervasive, all-consuming and recurring as the daily yearning to satisfy hunger and thirst. Hungering and thirsting for that righteousness can only be satisfied by God" (pg. 81).

Tata Maka would agree.

-Joe

Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2008).

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