The Upside-Down Blessing – pt 6 – What do you see?

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God – Matthew 5:8 –

We are walking through the nine powerful statements that Christ uses to begin the sermon on the mount. In the Christian tradition, we call them the Beatitudes. If you’d like to start the series from the beginning, you can click here.

Milestones

In the late 90’s, I was doing some work for the church in southeast Aisia, and language learning was a part of that work. I needed to get to know the people, the culture, and the language, so I took the same walk, visiting the same places, talking with the same people every day. At first, all I could say was “Hi, my name is Ken, I’m learning your language, can I come back tomorrow to practice.” And when they said something to me, I would just smile and repeat the only line in their language that I knew.

One of my stops was with a group of men who played chess on the sidewalk on one of the main streets. I didn’t have the life experience, or language skills to notice that they were betting on games, but I was such a curiosity that they let me play for free. I thought, “I can do this, I used to teach chess at an after-school program.”

I was wrong… I got schooled, quickly! But I stayed a bit to share a time of fellowship.

I kept coming back, making this a part of my language route: learning the culture, getting to know the people, learning the names of the chess pieces and losing… losing… losing… all the time. Lots of people would come to watch the games, and I would always lose to a smiling crowd, even though I really was trying to win.

Until…

I didn’t lose. I remember looking at the board and thinking, I’ve got this one, and I looked around and had a moment of panic, I was all alone here, how would a win be perceived… so I threw the game and came back to ask the local missionary who laughed and said if you can win, win.

So I did, the next day, and everyone cheered. It was a milestone. Not just in my chess game, which really didn’t matter, but also in relationship building, and by that time I had gathered enough rudimentary language to talk a bit and let people know why I was there, and that I was working for the church, and that they were invited. And we continued to play chess there on the sidewalk for the whole time I was in southeast Asia. I didn’t win all the time, or very often, but that… didn’t matter.

It was a milestone, a chance to see that what I had been working on, getting to know people… God was blessing that work.

What does this have to do with being pure in heart and seeing God… everything.

In the Methodist tradition of faith, that have served within for decades, John Wesley shares a special way of interpreting this particular beatitude shared by Christ. 

Wesley defines pure in heart as a state that the Christian reaches after they have done some relationship building with God, and I love this definition.

When you have gone through some of the earlier beatitudes:  experiencing poverty of spirit and finding God to be there for you, practicing forgiveness and grace in learning to be meek, and beginning to cultivate a desire for godly things then… 

The Christian reaches times in their life when they can start to feel or notice what Christ has done for them, the cleansing from sin, the purity of spirit.  Wesley called this growing state of awareness-linked-with-Godly-action “holiness”.  When you set aside your life for God, it becomes special in a unique and God-only way. 

So, it should come as no surprise then that people who do this, at some point in their spiritual growth, will be better able to recognize God-at-work… “They shall see God”. 

It’s a powerful milestone in your walk with Christ, that first time that you are able to recognize God at work. It shows that you have been working on your heart, soul, and life and turning yourself toward the way of Christ. It is a blessing that shows you are doing good work.

Most interesting to me–within this idea–is the realization that you and I noticing God doesn’t necessarily mean God is doing more for us and less for others.  Rather it means that you’ve done some of the work in approaching God and now you’re rewarded with the gift of being able to recognize God’s action in your life and the life of others. 

Your heart has adopted some purity, and now you are better able to see God.

Celebrate those moments, they are gifts… milestones.

When they happen, share them. You may be able to help someone else recognize God at work. These moments become a part of your testimony, your worship, your thanksgiving. God is meeting you in your Holy work and blessing your efforts to have a pure heart.

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