FAITH AND REFLECTION — The sixth beatitude in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew 5:8. It says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
This beatitude seemingly poses a bilateral and paradoxical challenge. First, the Scripture describes the heart of man as being “desperately wicked”. And if we are honest about the matter, we would candidly confess that none of us is entirely pure. Second, God forbade Moses from seeing Him, “…for no one can see God and live” (Exodus 33:20).
Jesus, in other passages, clarifies the first perplexity. He told His disciples that they were, “…clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). New Testament epistles later corroborate this. 1 John, 1:7 for example, says “the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”
Then there is the second matter. How can the pure in heart, those who have been cleansed by Christ, see God? Well, on this side of eternity we can’t. In order to clarify this second challenge, we need to peer into the future.
This life is about getting ready for the next one and seeing God is for the next world, not for this one. So, in this world, we strive for purity. 1 John 3:1 – 3 explains that, “…we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we will be, but we know that when He is revealed, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope, purifies themselves, just as He is pure.”
Perhaps defining the words “pure” and “heart” would be helpful. Pure, in this context, means clean and unmixed; spiritually cleansed and singularly motivated. Being pure does not imply sinlessness of life, but certainly indicates singleness of mind.
The heart, medically speaking, refers to the muscular organ that pumps blood. The literary and philosophically inclined, would refer to the heart as the core idea of a matter. However, theologically and biblically speaking, the heart is where we process intellectually, feel emotionally and make decisions. The heart is the very core of our being.
In conclusion, and broadening the horizon somewhat, the pure in heart are able to “see God” in several ways. First, the pure in heart will see God through communion and fellowship with Him.
Second, the pure will catch glimpses of God through the disciplines of Bible study and prayer. And finally, as suggested earlier, in the world to come, through sincere, simple faith in Christ, the pure in heart will see God in His kingdom.
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face…” (1 Corinthians 13:12).