PRAYING THE BEATITUDES, PART 7
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
We want to see God. We long to hear His voice, touch His robe, feel the power emanating from His magnificent being. We yearn to sense His presence in a tangible way every moment. At least, we think we do.
What if we saw His face beside the careless driver we just cursed? What if we felt His hand rest on our shoulder as we viewed some websites, some movies, some television programmes? How comfortable would His presence be beside us as we deliberately avoided helping the needy? Are we selective when and where we want to see God?
In this sixth axiom from the list of beatitudes, Jesus indicates that seeing God has significance. It’s also possible. I’m not sure if the ‘seeing’ refers to visible sight, but to a blind person that’s immaterial anyway. Moses, we are told, “saw him who is invisible” (Heb.11:27). The apostle Paul urges us to “fix our eyes on Jesus” and advises us that “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb.12:2,14).
Seeing God is also exclusive; it comes as a result, a reward of purity of heart. It’s a limited commodity, mainly because so few people put it at the top of their list of priorities. Purity of heart sounds like something from a bygone era like the Victorian epoch. Who has a pure heart nowadays? What does pure in heart even mean?
Let’s start with ‘heart’. It’s a term used in the Bible to refer to the core and centre of our will: our desires, motivations, the impetus for all we think, say and do. It’s the real, immaterial, eternal us. I don’t think it’s going to go away when our physical bodies die. Now we move to the word ‘pure’. Purity seems to involve several elements. It entails steadfast, enduring perseverance: that’s longevity. It means trueness, not split between conflicting idols: that’s loyalty. It describes the highest degree of excellence: that’s quality. It is sourced through Christlikeness: that’s replication. It is pliable, moldable to the Creator’s plans: that’s elasticity. And it is dependent upon trust-focused vision: that’s clarity.
The list seems rather daunting, doesn’t it? Is it even possible to obtain a pure heart? The Psalmist probes, “Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…” (Psalm 24:4) then petitions in prayer, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). God’s response? “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus helps us to develop pure hearts by leading us to value personal, private prayer. He scorns the hypocritical prayer of those whose purpose is to gain praise from other people. He advises us, rather, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matt.6:6). This process of hearts being made pure happens in the realm of the unseen. Longevity, loyalty, quality, replication, elasticity and clarity become deeply imbedded in our hearts when we commune with God. It’s a process. It will take a lifetime. But let’s persevere. Jesus will be faithful to make it happen. Then, “…when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (I John 3:2,3).