Blessed are the Pure in Heart

Catching Sight of God

            I grew up in the era of Ivory Soap. There were two unusual things about Ivory, it could float and it was 99 and 44/100 % pure. I realize that someone might well ask, “Pure what”? Or, as I often wondered, “What was the 56/100% all about”? Nevertheless, the overwhelmingly high level of purity did duly impress.

            Ivory Soap’s preponderance of purity is actually a very good illustration of the point Jesus makes in Matthew 5:8. The reason for this is that purity has much more to do with what is present than what is absent. Consider this, a heart may be largely free of impurity, and yet be empty and cold. Such a heart will not, however, remain unfilled. If pure attitudes and motives do not take up residence, an empty heart will soon be occupied with evil things (Lk. 11:24-26; Matt. 15:19). 

            In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), Jesus reveals His keen interest in matters of the heart. A good heart must back up our conduct if it is to be accepted by Jesus (Matt. 5:27-28). Words and deeds must be supported by a heart of integrity if they are to please the Christ (Matt. 5:33-37; 6:1).

            Purity of heart is about singleness of purpose. The pure heart is not an unsettled sea of conflicting desires; it is a place of peace dominated by united intentions. A singular spiritual focus sorts out a host of conflicting loyalties and drives the heart toward the service of but one master (Matt. 6:24). So attentive is the pure heart to the call of Christ, it consistently turns a deaf ear to all other voices (cf. Jn. 10:1-5; II Cor. 5:14-15).

            In its captivated focus, purity of heart has a strong link to holiness. To be holy is to be set apart from commonplace priorities and concerns; it is to be like God (Lev. 19:2; II Cor. 7:1). This positive, set-apart direction of the heart correctly attunes our sight through the focus of faith (II Cor. 5:7; Matt. 6:22-22-23). In this way we come to see as God sees. This corrected vision with its purity of sight allows us to see what otherwise cannot be seen (Jn. 1:18). The pure of heart are thus among a privileged few who catch a glimpse of the greatest un-seeable sight of all. The pure of heart have an uncluttered, singular look at God!

 

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

We Need Heros

One of my favorite books is Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird. There are a number of reasons I hold the book in such high esteem, but there is one that easily rises to the top. Atticus Finch sums up my most valued attachment to the book. His character represents a challenge that continues to send chills through my soul!

In a culture whose social traditions held almost everyone in the cruel grip of racism, Atticus Finch uncompromisingly stood for justice. He towered over his cowardly peers as a man of rare courage. Atticus Finch is a hero to me; but he is a hero most especially because he reminds me of Jesus.

Jesus stood for righteousness as no man ever did or has. He stood for justice, fair play, valor, and courage. His utter indignation for every false way was surpassed only by His singular devotion to truth.

We desperately need men and women today who will dare to shun the compromise of “political correctness” and stand for truth! In 1960 with the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, a nation torn by racial conflict paused to notice Harper Lee’s portrayal of Atticus Finch. In a time when lesser men seemed to rule the day, Miss Lee gave us a much-needed hero. Today, though the triumph of unprincipled men may be less violent and is often disguised by hypocrisy, we still desperately need heroes.

We need Christ-like men and women who will dare to make the ever-unpopular decisions of the Christ. He was willing to live a life of principle regardless of the foes He faced (Mk. 12:14). How about you and me?