my journey – part 19

“Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.”

What is purity?

Is it something that
requires stiff and rigid living?

Is it something that
only a few,
very special people obtain?

Is it something that
we strive for, and seek after,
but always seem to end up short?

I believe our hearts are like a glass,
and we look through that glass to see God.

We have a choice
to fill our hearts
with the water of Christ,
or the dirt of the world.

And when we place dirt in our hearts,
even if only a bit,
our vision of God becomes
that much more blurry,
that much less defined,
that much less complete.

Could it be
that being pure in heart
simply means choosing Jesus?

Filling our lives
so totally and completely full of Him
that there is no room for anything else?

“Create in me a pure heart, O God.”

For quite some time there was (and still is, to a certain extent) a “purity movement” in afC… a movement that basically said that purity was about what you didn’t do. Before going further, I must say that I love dearly the people who feel this way, and I respect their committment to God and to a righteous and holy lifestyle. They are good people who love God tremendously, and I respect them completely.

In re-reading this, I think it can be interpreted to the benefit of either side of the debate, but my intent was certainly not to say that we should employ a strict moral code in the service of sectarianism. Rather, the idea that purity *does not* require strict and rigid living was the theme.

In the reflection of subsequent years, it strikes me that we often talk about purity in the wrong way. Often, we talk about religious purity in terms of a righteous lifestyle. Purity, on the other hand, in a worldly sense is used in terms of consistency. Pure gold is 24 karat – it is *just* gold – there is nothing else inside of it. Something can, of course, be pure lead, or pure dirt, or pure manure. Similarly, our lives could be purely evil and be “pure”.

I think we confuse the term “purity” with the term “holiness”. Most certainly we want to be pure – we are called to have a heart that is consistently seeking God. Holiness is the term that refers to the the character and the “rightness” of our actions, where as purity is the term that, in my mind, refers to the consistency. Certainly we are called to be both holy and pure.

None the less, we cannot and should not use either of these terms in the pursuit of rampant sectarianism, seeking to disengage ourselves from anything that might make us “worse people”. To engage evil is not to embrace evil. We are called to be “in the world, but not of the world” – a challenge to be sure, and one that requires us to make difficult moral choices every day, but ultimately the only way we will be able to fulfill the mission and ministry of Jesus.

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