Blessed are the pure in heart,Matthew 5:8
for they will see God.
It seems like a while since we’ve had a proper political scandal here in the UK. Of course, our tabloid newspapers like nothing better than a good scandal; for them it’s front page news. They enjoy the hypocrisy of a politician who has been living a life of hypocrisy. They like nothing better than running with a story of a politician who has been sleeping with his secretary, or fiddling his expenses, or covering up his former misdeeds. Reporting such scandals is in the public interest, the media maintain, since it is important that we see our leaders for who they are.
Politicians are real people. The media might not like to recognise this, but our leaders are not some kind of super-being. Politicians, like the rest of us, make mistakes. They are ordinary human beings with the frailty that goes with this. They are prone to the same failings as the rest of our species. Can we really blame them when their errors of judgement are discovered? Can we really expect them to live lives of purity?
Whilst the debate could rage for ever about whether is appropriate for politicians to be held to some higher moral standard than the rest of us, there is no doubt about whether this is the case for followers of Christ. Christians are called to a higher standard of living than that expected of other people. We are expected, as Jesus states in this beatitude, to be ‘pure of heart’. The life of a Christian is one that is marked by diligent study of God’s word, a faithful life of prayer, and a conscious effort to live in the same way that Christ did. We are expected to love all those whom we encounter, and to model Christ-like living to the world. There is no room for hypocrisy here. It is not enough to be Christ-like on a Sunday morning, or once a week at home group. The Christian’s way of life is to be consistent at all times. If we model Christian living sometimes, but are consciously sinning by omission (not doing the things that we should have done) or by commission (doing the things that we should not have done), then we are not pure of heart. There is simply no room for a Christian to behave in this way; we are called to a higher standard of living, and if we are truly to honour Christ, we need to ensure that we are pure of heart.
This is hard. There are no two ways about this. Being pure of heart in a fallen, sinful world is incredibly difficult. Thankfully we have a God who forgives us when we inevitably fall, a God who through his son has wiped our sins clean. Nevertheless, our aim should be to strive for purity of heart, for consistency of living, for avoidance of sin.
Let’s confess our sins before God now and pray that through his Spirit he will strengthen us to live lives free from sin, to be ‘pure of heart’ in a fallen world.