The Purity Test
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8 KJV)
Jesus’ teaching in the Beatitudes disrupts our identities and partisan passions. What do mercy, meekness, and poverty of spirit have to do with crushing our political enemies? How does electing the president of a superpower help us live lives of self-sacrificial love?
We struggle to draw clear lines between the things of God and the things of Caesar. The Christian’s life is defined by following a crucified Messiah, who calls us to take up our crosses and follow in His path. Yet the very act of listening to the call opens us to condemnation by those who hear differently.
Believers strain to comprehend the will of God. Most organizations who claim to help lead us astray. We only learn the values of the lobbying group. Even after prayer, many of us struggle to choose the correct path. In desperation we turn to the Bible for answers. Proof texts and theological systems blind us to deeper stories that read our hearts.
The Bible is a compilation of laws, stories, poetry, proverbs, and parables. It refuses to behave like immutable rule book of religious and political principles. Biblical authors were deeply embedded in changing historical and political circumstances that stretched over a thousand years. The Bible does not contemplate, criticize, or endorse American democracy. Instead it provides hints about God’s values and priorities. Only we can decide our ultimate course.
Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” challenges our central identity.
How do we understand purity of heart?
What does it even mean to see God?
Do we experience the Divine on the physical, spiritual, or emotional level or a combination of all three?
Can we even guess at the purity of candidates’ intentions?
We can choose carefully choreographed images and poll tested speeches or follow our instinctual tribal identities that feed off fears and prejudices.
The nuances of the original language deepen our understanding. The Greek word for pure, katharos, means having been purified…