Sorry I missed being with you last week. My heart was to be faithful with my weekly blog post but some pretty extensive oral surgery trumped my desire. However it has been good for my diet! This week is gram-ma -gram-pa camp. It is so fun having the grand-kids to ourselves. This means you are getting in this blog what has been cooking in my kitchen.
I just returned from speaking at Boston University and used some of the material I had posted here on the beatitude in Mt 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” As I was preparing, I had an additional thought that exponentially increased the good news of this beatitude…and that is what it does not say! It does not say, “Blessed are the pure, for they shall see God.”
If gold is pure, it means there are no impurities in it at all. It is 100% pure, perfect, uncontaminated gold. Not even a speck of something inconsistent with its nature. If that is what I have to become in order to experience God, I am in big trouble. By lots of rules, discipline and accountability I might be able to get to the point the Pharisees did in Mt 23…where my outward behavior is pretty admirable. Jesus said they outwardly appeared righteous to others.
But here is the problem, inwardly the Pharisees were “full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Mt 23:28). They were consistently inconsistent! That is the reverse of being pure.
Here is the good news. It is not the 100% consistently pure who get to experience God, it it those who are “pure in heart.” And being pure in heart is something God does for me. He gives me a new heart, a new nature that has the DNA of his divine nature in it. This is a beautiful statement of the grace of God.
Now – does this mean that I do not work on outward behavior that is consistent with my new inner nature? NO! But it does mean I now have a source from which my outward behavior can come. This makes me think of Psalm 24:3-4, “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord…He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” The Pharisees tried to have clean hands without a new and pure heart. Their assumption was cleans hands will create a pure heart.
They had it backwards. The pure heart creates in us an ability to have clean hands. Always? No. Of course not. We see Paul struggling with his inconsistency in Romans 7. When he looked at his hands, he saw them doing things he didn’t want them to do. HOWEVER – HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS – it is not our behavioral consistency that allows us to see and experience God, it is the miracle of a new and pure heart! This beatitude is incredible good news that makes us stand in awe of the grace of God every day. I get to experience God because of what He has done in me.
IMPORTANT UPCOMING NEWS: August is my annual sabbatical from blogging. It is the month I focus on Psalm 23 – lying beside still waters and allowing God to restore my soul. Let me suggest that you do the same and one way to do that could be to unhurriedly dwell on some of the blog posts from this past year. Is there something that God seems to be impressing on you? Is there a trend of truths your heart responds to? What might this mean for you? Please keep posting your thoughts and discoveries and I will see you on Thursday, September 1!