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Happiness Is To See God (6th in series)

Happy are the pure in heart for they shall see God. –Matthew 5:8

            We come now to the climax of Jesus’ description of the citizen of the Kingdom, the greatest of the beatitudes, the heart of Christian character, the distinctive teaching of the Gospel.  George Butterick called it the “most inaccessible of the beatitudes.”  He wrote, “We hardly know which is more beyond us, the condition or the promise—purity of heart or seeing God.”  One skeptic, who once wrote to John Wesley, expressed a common reaction to Bible statements like this when he said:

“I think the Bible is the finest book I ever read in my life; yet I have an insuperable objection to it:  It is too good.  It lays down such a plan of life, such a scheme of doctrine and practice, as is far too excellent for weak silly men to aim at, or attempt to copy after.”1

            Few would deny that this is the ideal, the goal for which we should strive, but it is just that, an ideal, an unattainable goal.  If a pure heart is what is required, we are in trouble.  One can hardly conceive of a more depressing and discouraging idea.  Even the Bible asserts that our heart is the problem.  It is the source of all our trouble:
For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. –Matthew 15:19
The human condition is heart trouble.
            However, there is gospel (good news).  God is the great cardiologist, heart doctor and has provided the remedy—Jesus.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit he will cleanse our heart.
 God, who knows the heart,… purified their hearts by faith. –Acts 15:8,9
            If a pure heart is the highest trait of Christian character, the reward—see God, is what J.N. Davies calls “Heaven’s richest reward.”  To see God is the thread running through the history of human ambition, the one unquenched thirst, unsatisfied hunger.  As one has said, “So there come times in everyman’s experience when he wishes he could be as sure of the existence of God as he is of the chair he is sitting on or the table at his side.”2
Our oldest daughter, then about four years old, asked, “How can God see us, if we can’t see Him?”
            Tennyson was giving expression to this longing, when he gave instructions for his poem, “Crossing the Bar” to always be included at the end of his published works.  The final words were: “I hope to see my Pilot face to face when I have crossed the Bar.”
            Seeing God is fundamental to the Biblical message.  Adam and Eve’s sin caused them to be banished from God’s presence.  It is affirmed clearly, in different places, that the ultimate promise is to see God, to be in God’s presence.  The final perfection of the Christian’s character in Christ likeness is connected to seeing Him.  “We shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”  Read all 8.

1The Works of John Wesley, VII, 298
2Stamm, Seeing the Multitudes, 75

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