Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blessed are the pure in heart.

While trying to find a church to attend my wife and I have started meeting with some friends once a week to study the book of Matthew. This is to serve the purpose of keeping us in regular contact with our Christian friends as well as keeping me from going crazy from lack of Theological discussion. This time has been a great help for me, keeping me reading the Bible, and really giving me an opportunity to dig into the things Christ taught. Last week we went through the Beatitudes.

One that really jumped out at me was "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

In a lot of churches I have attended the common teaching on this verse goes something like this: "If we are really serious about our faith and trying to keep sin out of our lives we will be taken to heaven where God lives." Now I am a big fan of not going to hell, but I think that Jesus had more in mind than just, "Go to church every Sunday and get a free pass to glory."

When we look at the whole of the Beatitudes we see a phrase that happens twice: "For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." Often times when talking about the Kingdom, Jesus and other biblical figures are not just talking about what happens after we die. They are referring to bringing the kingdom forth. Dr Brad Young would say the better translation would be: "Out of these I will bring forth the kingdom of Heaven." Jesus says this about two groups of individuals one being the poor in spirit, and the others are those that are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.

Not to discount any of the the other Beatitudes, but I feel as though these three specifically tie together. If we look at what it means to be poor in spirit, it really means morally bankrupt. (Stay with me.) What Jesus is saying is not to make attempts to become poor in spirit. What he is saying is Blessed are the poor in spirit, God is going to redeem you, and out of you I will bring forth the Kingdom of Heaven. He goes on to talk about the mourners, the meek, and those who hunger thirst for righteousness. These are the places that God is willing to go to save us. He is willing to chase after us when we are at a low, when we don't have it all together, when we know that something is wrong with the world around us.

When he mentions blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, the idea of righteousness in the Jewish mindset is acts of love and kindness. We hear this verse and we think about all the mean people that won't let us into the water cooler gossip, because we as Christians make them feel awkward. Let's look at who was being persecuted for their Theology and by who.

Jesus and John the Baptist were both being sneered at be the religious leaders for their acts of love and kindness toward sinners, the socially, and religiously unfit. I think Jesus is saying sometimes when we follow God into other peoples dark places so He can meet them there, our religious friends might fail to understand. They might think we have abandon our faith, and that we are living more dangerously than a Christian should.

Which brings me back to the pure in heart. I believe Jesus was trying to tell us something super important here. Have you ever been around people that see nothing but the bad things in life? No matter what you say it gets twisted and distorted. This I believe is what happens when you clothe your hear in unclean things. Jesus says, "Out of the abundance to the heart the mouth speaks." I believe Jesus is trying to tell us that as we draw near to God we become more like Him. As we become more like him we begin to see God at work around us. Not only do we see God at work, but we see Christ in others, in the least of all of us we see Him. Not only do we see Him, but we see their poorness of spirit as a cry for help, and we become willing to go to their dark places so they can meet God no matter what our proper religious friends have to say about it.

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