Saturday, April 4, 2009

What Does "Blessed Are the Pure of Heart" Mean?

Continuing his series on the "Beattitudes" at, Erwin McManus quotes the fifth verse of the Beattitudes, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." In our reality, when we read a verse lke this and we typically think about it in terms of after we die. Or we read, "they shall see God" and think, "well, they don't really see God". Right?

This past week, Erwin's mom had cataract surgery. His mom called him up and said it was a pretty serious surgery. Sometimes, water gathers behind the eyes, coagulates and eventually solidifies, which distorts vision. So, a cataract surgeon will take the retina out, scrape it clean and then replace it. But if you were born with this condition, you would just assume that the rest of the world sees as you see. The entire world would be blurry and distorted, but it would never occur to you that you were "blind".

On Thursday, Erwin and Mariah went to New York and had real "New York style" pizza. They went to the first pizza place in the U.S., a place called Lombardi's. A film making friend of theirs named Ryan joined them and, as they were talking, Ryan said his first film was in black and white which Erwin found odd for someone so young. But later in the conversation, Ryan also told him that he was color blind. "Is that why you made your film in black and white?" Ryan answered "no", but explained to him that his color-blindess was a blindness to pastels. He explained that, as a little boy, he could see yellow and he would fight for things that were yellow because he could see those the clearest. Erwin muses, "If all of us couldn't see pastels, we would assume they didn't exist."

Erwin himself is near sighted and occasionally has to put on glasses to see distances clearly. He'll wear them when he sees a movie because he likes to see the clarity and detail of the film. But Erwin was 20 before he discovered he was nearsighted! He remembers that he and a friend of his in college, Randy, were extremely competititive. They would play chess, racketball and tennis competitively. One day, they were driving between Dallas and Los Angeles and to stay awake, they were playing and ABC game, just identifying letters in order on signs. "He was at Q, and I was still on K and I thought he was cheating." So Randy told Erwin to read a sign when he could read it and Randy would do the same. It wasn't long before they realized that Erwin needed glasses! He went to the eye doctor and, when he finally had his glasses, it was beautiful because he never knew the world could be seen that way.

So, when Jesus says, "they shall see God", is it possible that He sees the world differently from us? The reality of our lives is that we live blindly. But we were designed to see God! "I don't want to live blind, but I want to believe Jesus!" Are we trapped in a world of money, houses and cars because that's all we can see? In Deuteronomy 34, near the end of his life, Moses saw the invisible God. He is described as a man who new God "face to face". A few chapters earlier, Exodus 33:11, it says God would speak to him like he was His friend! This was unusual for Moses if you remember how he first saw God back in Exodus 3:1-5. Moses saw a burning bush and immediately hid his face from God. But yet he finishes his life with a special relationship with the creator of the universe! This wasn't a new idea. God would walk into the garden (of Eden) in the cool of the day looking for mankind in the Beginning.

God designed us so that we would be able to see the invisible God. There is an interesting contrast in the relationship of God and Moses as compared to God and Pharoah. Moses experienced miraculous signs and wonders and we even remember Moses as being right in the middle of a life of miracles . Pharoah, on the other hand, saw all the same signs and wonders that Moses saw, but he refused to acknowledge God! Think about it. Pharoah was on the other side of the Red Sea! But in the book of Exodus, over and over it says Pharoah hardened his heart and chose to reject God while Moses allowed the voice of God to so change his life that he chose to follow God everywhere he went.

"Pure of heart" seems so far away, doesn't it? Even in our best moments when we are pursuing all that is right, we still know there are some bad things inside of us. But we are not alone. We can't expect to be perfect. Remember, Moses killed someone and was a leader over slaves. He was a murderer. So, if a guy like this can be changed to be pure of heart, that tells us that we are all qualified to experience purity of heart. It doesn't matter how sinful or distructive we've been in the past. Moses was so overwhelmed with this incredible gift that he seemed to push the envelope (in a good way) to experience God more. When he was leading the Israelites, Moses tells God that if His presence is not with him, he will not go on with the people. He begs God to constantly be with them and accompany them. But God basically says, "Do you realize what would happen if I did that?" Have you ever seen a bug zapper and what it does to bugs that fly into the light? In His holy and perfect presence, we would be like moths to the flame.

God desires to change the essence of who we are so that we might be able to see the fullness of Him in all His glory. Jesus came so that we could live in the fire. In the book of Ezekiel 36:26-28, God talks about how he will show his holiness through his people; through us; "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. He says that he will show himself through His people.

But this is not something we can do ourselves. We can try and do a lot of good things for ourselves, but "it's like doing situps to cure cancer. You will just die with a washboard." Erwin says it doesn't seem like much of an upgrade when God exchanges our stone hearts for flesh hearts. But we were created in God's image and He just wants to bless us with true humanism. In the book of Jeremiah, I am going to create a new covenant. I will write my laws in your mind and place them on your heart. God is not trying to make us better, he is trying transform who we are. The amazing thing Jesus does is he changes us from the center. He is not changing our morality, He's changing our motivation.

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." Have you ever bought a new car and you thought it was an amazing car to you, but the moment you bought one, that model and color was everywhere?" If we live our lives blind to the invisible, we assume there is nothing more out there. But the moment we let Jesus in, we begin to see God everywhere. Do you know why you can't see God when your heart's not pure? Because we see the world through our soul, and if our soul is filled with bitterness, anger, lust and perversions, we interpret the world through our soul filter. When out at sea, you can usually only see but so deep in the water. But when diving, the water itself actually magnifies the sights of the ocean! Seeing God is a way of seeing everything differently. We see a world of good, hope and opportunity through Him. We don't need incremental improvement, we need Him to completely transform us.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All posts/questions/comments/links encouraged and welcome!