Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The God They Be Seeing

Matthew 5.8:  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

The God They Be Seeing

Literally: Privileged the clean ones to the heart because they the God shall be seeing.

Blissful the guiltless, because they will be seeing God.

Happy those free from sin that they shall be seeing the God.

This, more than any of the other beatitudes, I suspect, is for the ‘rest of us’ rather than for the ones about whom Jesus speaks.

To be ‘pure in heart’ as Jesus speaks it means to be free of mixed motives . . . to see the best rather than the worst because one has no eye for the worst . . . to have no care for anything save the things of God . . . it is to be sin free.*

Jesus is not posing a riddle or speaking of impossibilities.  He’s talking about someone.  But who?  And what does it mean that they shall see God?  Or perhaps more importantly, what does it mean to those that are not pure in heart to say that the pure ones will see God?  Does it mean that they, that we, will not?  And what does that mean?  Is this code language about how to get to heaven?

View the beatitudes not as a list of criteria to get to heaven, not a list of virtues.  View them as a list (and not necessarily the only one) of blessings to particular people, people who are not ordinarily thought of as lucky or blessed.

There may be a call to be more like them.  But the more important challenge to the rest of us is simple recognition: the recognition that God values the likes of these.

So who are the pure in heart?  Perhaps they’re the ones among us who don’t get the joke – you know, the joke . . . the joke that has a cruel or off-color punch line . . . they don’t get it because for them, it really isn’t funny when somebody falls down because they might be hurt . . . they don’t get sexual innuendo because it never occurs to them to demean God’s gift of our embodiment. . . they are not worldly and in a sense, they are already seeing God . . . all the time.

Perhaps the pure in heart are the child-like innocents among us, for whom life seems very simple, because it is.  They’re the ones the rest of us are always explaining things to, as they ask their ridiculous questions:  Why would people go to war: don’t they know people will be killed? they wonder.  Why would you make fun of her? don’t you know it hurts her feelings?  Why are you laughing when she’s crying? they ask mostly themselves.

We answer, but you don’t understand!, to which they sadly respond, you’re right: I don’t understand, leaving us wondering if perhaps we’re the ones who’ve missed the point.

They’re not self-righteous, these pure ones.

They’re simply confused and hurt by the ugliness of the world.  Of course they see God.

The great irony is that they most likely have no idea Jesus is actually talking about them.

Oh, blissed, blessed innocent pure ones . . . God is overjoyed to see you . . . and can’t wait for you to see him. . . you see, you already have.

*William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1.


  1. What a wonderful teacher you are, Beth!

    Love and blessings,

    1. Marilyn, Thank you. Truly, no one has ever said that to me before. It is a gift I will treasure always. Peace, Beth

  2. After Mt. 5:8, Jesus gives examples of what is, or is not, "pure of heart" in 5:28 and 6:19-21.

    In 5:38 the man who looks lustfully at a woman commits adultery in his heart; while such a man is in danger of hell (5:29), the implication is that the one who is pure in heart and looks with purity now will look at (see) God in the end (rather than end up in hell).

    In 6:19-21 Jesus contrasts those laying up treasures on earth with those laying up treasures in heaven, and concludes: where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. He adds in 6:24 that this is also about serving two masters; one cannot serve God and mammon/wealth.

    1. The reference you give to Matthew 6 is, I think, the most interesting -- with its linkage to where our hearts are -- a point of view I had not considered before -- that the desire for wealth that takes up residence in our hearts as being a form of impurity is a compelling one, I think, worthy of great reflection. Thank you for sharing. Beth

  3. Jesus deliberately set the bar impossibly high to show us that we can't reach this by our own sweat. It's a gift. Sometimes it comes in small increments and gets unwrapped blissfully slowly. Then you realize that you don't see things the same way you used to. The ugliness is more deeply felt, AND the beauty is more deeply appreciated.

    1. Charlie - beautiful imagery - the slow unwrapping, the changed vision - the deepening of our experiences and awareness of them -- what a wonder, what gift. Peace, Beth