The Pure in Heart & The Peacemakers
Recordings, notes and application questions
Each week, we produce notes, discussion points and application questions for the Sunday talks — helping you go deeper into everything we’re looking at together and resourcing our Small Groups during the week. Use the embedded player to listen to the talk, or click here to visit Soundcloud and download it on a PC. You can also subscribe to Oasis podcasts on Spotify, iTunes or Podbean for listening on the go, and you can find the accompanying Powerpoint presentation for this week’s talk here.
- Matthew 5:1–12
- Psalm 24
- John 1
- 1 John 3
- 2 Corinthians 5:18–20
As he begins his ministry, Jesus has gathered an unlikely following of fishermen, labourers, sick and hurting people — in other words, the broken and insignificant people left behind by the political authorities in Rome and the spiritual authorities in Jerusalem. The ones nobody else cares about. The left-behinds. The down-and-outs. These people, he declares in the Beatitudes to be blessed. God has chosen to bring His kingdom, His rule and reign expressed on earth through His people, to these people first. It’s a complete reversal of expectations, coming like a beam of light which reframes everything we thought we knew about life, status, authority, power and blessing.
These are the people who see something in the world that God sees; that things are not well in God’s good creation. There is brokenness, grief, pain, suffering and fractured relationships within people, between God and people, and between people and one another. God sees all that, and He is doing something about it in and through Jesus and the Kingdom He is announcing.
The Pure in Heart
These are the people who “will one thing” (Kierkegaard). Often, our behaviour is influenced by a multitude of different motivations, some good and some bad. The pure in heart are those who live life, publicly and privately, openly and transparently before God and others. “The heart” in Biblical language is about the whole of our internal life — feelings, thoughts, emotions, desires, will.
These are the people who don’t care about prestige, or being admired, don’t fixate on what others think, but simply desire to see God. These may not be the leaders, they may not be the politically or socially or spiritually significant, not the ones with grand plans to enact global change, but they are the ones who, as they start to understand the significance of what Jesus has done in giving them the Kingdom to live out through small, daily acts of devotion, as yeast and mustard seeds, get a fresh sight of who God is and what he’s doing in the world.
As we lift up our eyes to Jesus, we see God, and every sight of Him shapes us more into His likeness now, even as one day it will transform us entirely when we see Him afresh in the new creation. Jesus comes to do what we cannot — becoming the meeting point between heaven and earth so that we can come to Him, however imperfectly, and receive Him again.
So, if you are bothered by what is going on in the world around you, and you’re bothered by the brokenness in your own heart, but you are living out a desire to see God that He has placed in you by His Spirit, no matter how imperfectly, you will find yourself in small, daily acts of devotion towards God and towards others, worked out in mercy and persecution (as we will see later) and in peace-making. This isn’t peace-loving — hiding away from all conflict in order to enjoy peace and quiet for ourselves — but putting ourselves into situations where we love both parties in a dispute in order to try and bring about reconciliation.
That can often be a costly endeavour, especially if both parties end up hating you because of it! But it is a role consistent with our family likeness as God’s children, because that’s what Jesus is like. God declares our identity over us, enabling us to go out and live in the good of it, even if that leads us into times of hardship or into tricky situations.
As we get to grips with the beatitudes, they begin to motivate us to action, not because Jesus tells us “do this so that you can be blessed”, but because he says “do this because you have already been blessed”. God has already poured his blessings out upon us, poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty as we are, in the midst of all the brokenness in ourselves, in our relationships with God and one another, and in the world, we are blessed. Good news has been announced to us, for us to receive, and to live in the good of.
In the beatitudes, we see a picture of Jesus, the one who perfectly embodies what it is to be in God’s Kingdom. On the cross, we see this man dying for us in order that all of that blessing, all those wonderful promises of comfort and inheritance and being filled with the Spirit and seeing God and identity as children might be poured out onto us and freely offered to the world. He bears in himself all our brokenness, pain and suffering, every fractured relationship that we find within ourselves and between us and God and between us and others, and he carries it with him to the cross and puts it to death there.
And then he rises again, the birth of a new creation inaugurated in the midst of the brokenness of the old in order that we might know hope for both now and the future, that God has committed himself to the restoration of this world and that he has begun that now in and through us. What good news!
- As we cross the half-way point in this series, what has most struck you about the Beatitudes so far?
- What spoke to you most from Sunday?
- If the Beatitudes are primarily given to those who are poor, hurting and broken, what message do they have for the rich, healthy and happy?
- In what way do these two Beatitudes reflect the “now and not yet” aspect of the Kingdom that we have seen coming through in the past few weeks?
- What do you think it means to “see God”?
- What situations in your life are in need of a peacemaker at the moment? How can you be a peacemaker in your family, friendships, work life, and community?
- What difference does it make responding in action because we have been blessed, rather than acting so that we can be blessed? Why is that so important?