Purity of Heart and Peacemaking Pastor Jim Stegall
As we come now to the end of the beatitudes, we have arrived at the blessedness of purity of heart and of being a peacemaker (the last beatitude will be the subject of this section in the next Whitfield Spirit).
"Blessed are the pure in heart" is seen by many as the climax of the beatitudes because of its reward—to be one who sees God. As Methodists, we should be no stranger to teaching on the importance of purity of heart because of the way our founder, John Wesley, held it as a central truth in his theology and ministry. Wesley saw our faith not as one that should be lived merely for external religious purposes, or as one comprised of just "going through the motions" of piety, but rather one that is lived from our hearts, the very core of our being.
Christianity is, at its core, a faith that of undivided hearts. When Jesus calls all of us to follow him, he is doing so as a God of love who wants us to love him wholeheartedly. This is, in a large way, an important key to understanding what it means to be pure in heart. Purity has often been subjugated to the subject of sexual purity, but the Biblical message of purity is a message of hearts wholly devoted to its beloved, free of the distraction of other lovers. As we lean into God’s grace to be pure in heart, as it cannot be attained through our strength, let us lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely to us and run to the founder and perfecter of our faith.
It is no secret that we live in a world filled with hate, resentment, war, anxiety, and general unrest. So, how do we act as peacemakers in such a world? The answer is that we imitate the sacrificial love that Jesus showed when he brought peace between us and God. To bring peace between humanity and God, Jesus, who himself is fully God, got down into our messy world, shone the light of God, and served. As we seek to bring peace in our relationships, relations between others, and between God and others, we too must lay aside comfort and self-interest unto serving others.
As ambassadors for Christ, we are called to bring his message into this world through both our words and actions. Peacemaking is a messy endeavor, but we have a Shepherd who traversed this path before us so that we would know the way. It often looks like being elbow-deep in dysfunctional relationships made up of messy people just like ourselves, but when the dust settles and God’s truth prevails, the sacrifices we make along the way are worthwhile. Viewing each situation in light of the gospel keeps our hearts focused on the Prince of Peace so that we too may bring peace. When we lean into his grace for this, he will meet us in that place and empower us to be the beacons of peace that this tumultuous world needs.