Can God Be Seen?
Not too long ago, a song on the radio was asking, “What if God was one of us? Just a stranger on a bus…” I think about that a lot. What would it be like to share a bus with God? Or an elevator? Or a booth at McDonalds? (Silly me…everyone knows God would be at Chick-fil-A). Although not the point of Joan Osborne’s song, I wouldn’t mind the chance for my faith to become sight (while maintaining a pulse, that is).
Yesterday I finished up a sermon series on the “Beatitudes.” It was loosely based on Kyle Idleman’s book, “The End of Me.” As Jesus concludes this opening section of the Sermon on the Mount, he says this:
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Maybe that’s my problem. I need a pure heart. Actually, I know that’s my problem. The Bible tells me so. The bad news is that it’s your problem, too. Our hearts aren’t pure.
There was a group of people in Jesus’s day known as the Pharisees who knew a lot about purity. They were really good at purifying the outside, but not so much the inside. Consequently, God stood before them every day for 3 years and they weren’t able to see him.
If we want to “see” God, a term that I believe Jesus was using to describe a relationship, we’re going to need a pure heart. No matter how much we fix up the outside, only God, by his grace through the empowering presence of His Spirit, can purify the inside.
I remember asking God to do this in my life. It was something I had to allow him to do. I was a Christian (i.e. I had received the forgiveness of my sins and was confident of my eternal destiny…on most days), but I was still living for me. My heart wasn’t pure. It was selfish. My Dad preached on “sanctification” and asked if anyone would like to surrender to the work of the Spirit. I remember kneeling at the altar of Orangeburg First Church of the Nazarene and saying a big “Yes” to the Spirit’s purifying work.
Since that “big yes”, there has been countless “little yeses” long the way. I’ve had to say, “I’m sorry” quite a few times as well. However, I know that God is working. I know he is creating a pure heart in me — something I could not do for myself.
As I think about mentors and influential people in my life, I sometimes wonder if Jesus could have worded that beatitude differently: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for God is seen in them.”
Look closely and see if you agree: