By Judith Gillis

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

For many years, because of my religious upbringing, my understanding of Jesus’ words was skewed. Religion does thaat. Religion creates lots of roadblocks to God. Religion has its adherents living frustrated lives that can never consistently measure up to genuine goodness. Before I surrendered my life to Christ and opted out of religion, I read Matthew 5:8 with a kind of resignation rather than rejoicing. Religion taught me that these words of Jesus meant only a few really lucky, really good people would see God in the sweet by and by. Those rare people like Saint Paul or Mother Theresa or my great aunt Catherine. Me, on the other hand, not so much.

Again, because of religious teaching, I did not have a healthy respect for God (the Bible calls this fear of the Lord) but rather a kind of ever-present, stomach-churning dread of Him. Never good enough to please this un-pleaseable God. I was well intentioned (some of the time), self-condemning (a lot of the time), and pretty much knew my heart was definitely not pure, all of the time.

A dramatic, beautiful, and permanent change occurred in 1972 when I invited Jesus Christ into my heart. The apostle Paul described this life changing experience in his first letter to the congregation at Corinth: But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. –
1 Corinthians 1:30

In other words, he was describing what only God can do for me, for any of us, a divine, life changing heart transplant. Giving what only He can give, a heart that is right with Him. Jesus called it a pure heart. The Bible calls it righteousness. And, as Jesus said, the pure in heart see God. Everywhere!

Literally, for me, the change was instantaneous. Not only did I feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, but when I stepped outside, the grass was greener, the sunset was stunning, the spring rain was radiant. With my new heart came new eyes, and not just for the natural world. The eyes of my heart were flooded with light to see the preciousness of my children, of others in my world, and the gift of life itself. All these years later, the words of Jesus are just as true as God continues to reveal Himself to my seeing eyes, to my seeing heart. And He who is seated on the throne said, See! I make all things new. – Revelation 21:5

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