Chick-fil-A is back in the news: a gay rights organization in Chicago reports that the restaurant will stop donating to groups that oppose gay marriage rights. The company has neither confirmed nor denied the claim. Instead, it refers to a July statement by which it promises to “treat every person with honor, dignity, and respect, regardless of . . . sexual orientation.”
Some Christians are claiming on Chick-fil-A’s Facebook page that the company “caved” on its morals in order to sell chicken in more markets. Was a fast-food restaurant right to take a public stand on biblical marriage? Would Chick-fil-A be right to take a more neutral position on such a divisive cultural issue? Which stance pleases the Lord?
I’m writing today from Italy, where I’m leading a Bible study tour. Yesterday we toured the Vatican and its Sistine Chapel. The works of Michelangelo and Raphael stun me every time I see their genius on display here. Their passion for excellence drove them to produce art that people come from all over the world to see, 500 years later.
What passion does God want for us? Jesus’ fourth Beatitude answers our question: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). “Those who are hungering and thirsting” captures the original Greek and shows that we all hunger and thirst for something. What defines success for you? Raising successful children; becoming president of your company; retiring at 55; publishing bestselling books; getting into the right school; making the right grades; having the right friends; becoming a famous artist or doctor or lawyer or scientist or singer or teacher; being “happy”?
Why do we each have an “ultimate concern”? If God made us for himself, so that we would love him with our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37), it stands to reason that he made us with an internal desire for him above all others. Pascal said there’s a “God-shaped emptiness” in each of us; St. Augustine observed that our hearts are restless until they rest in him. There’s a North on the compass of every soul.
We find it when we seek “righteousness”—keeping God’s commands and fulfilling his will even when we don’t want to; treating others justly, even when we don’t have to treat them well; maintaining moral character even when others aren’t looking. Note that we don’t have to attain such righteousness to be blessed by God—we need only seek it by submitting to the One who is “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). Then he will make us right with himself, others, and ourselves. What next step toward righteousness would he like you to take today?
If God can bless only those who seek to be right in all they do, can he bless America? Can he bless you?