This may be one of the hardest of the Beatitudes to comprehend, in the truest sense of the word—to wrap our minds and hearts around. How do we know if we are pure in heart; what does it mean to see God?
Many commentators (quoted in other entries) talk about what we see has far less to do with what is in front of us than what is inside us. A modern-day parable from the science fiction movie Avatar might help. We’ll take the story and intertwine it with comments on parallels in the Christian life.
Avatar is the highest money-making movie of all time. I don’t think it’s achieved this status because of the 3-D effects. I think it has more to do with the core of the story, which is what happens when a man is reborn and sees a world worth living and dying for—that is what people come to see.
That is the core of this beatitude, that when we have a true vision of God and of the glorious future He has for us, it will infuse every moment with a vision of God’s presence. This vision of God’s presence in every part of life grows in a circular way—with a bit of a pure heart we can see God’s love and goodness; the more we see God the more we are purified, the more purified our hearts become, the more we can see His hand in every part of life.
C.S. Lewis wrote about how myths were incomplete pictures, humanity’s “good dreams” that found their fulfillment and truth in the true story of Jesus. Lewis never confused the partial myth for the reality, but he recognized as part of the Imago Dei (the image of God, fallen, yet not erased in every person) is a longing for the reality of salvation in Jesus. The myths in movies do the same thing today—they give us a picture, a glimpse to make us hungry for the real. They do not necessarily do this intentionally, these longings are simply part of core of humanity.
Avatar is not a Christian movie, but in its longing for a new life and a new vision, it can give us a vision of what it means to see a new way of life and to live fully with that vision.
Here is the parable, the story, and Christian parallels:
A man, a soldier lost the use of his legs in battle.
We’re all in a battle of one sort or another. Life is like that—and sometimes we fight so hard we lose a part of us. We become crippled in our minds and hearts. Our loss limits our motion and vision.
The soldier gets the opportunity to step outside the limitations of his body through a technology that gives him a new body.
All of us have the opportunity to become new creatures when we trust Jesus as our savior.
Initially, he’s afraid. He’ll be strapped into a machine and will lose complete control. In spite of his fear, he trusts. The machine closes over him.
Coming to Jesus can be a fearful thing. We fear we will lose control over our lives. And we will—we will no longer be our own, we are bought with a price and we belong to the one who purchased us. We may come to Jesus as the man said saying “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” No matter how we come, when we trust Jesus as Forgiver and Leader he accepts us.
The soldier may have closed his eyes in fear, but then he opens his eyes, he is a new man, able to live in a new world: Pandora. In his new body, the soldier runs, leaps, fights and finds love in this new world of beauty.
Once we have given our lives to Jesus we become new. We are born again. We see life and purpose and our world in a new way.
Some others see Pandora as something to be exploited and used for selfish purposes. The soldier sees it as a world to be served.
Some people see Jesus as a source of prosperity and a way to get what they want out of life. True Christians know that following Jesus means serving Jesus.
Though the solder sees through new eyes, but the experiences and joys are temporary, the body is not permanently his. Though temporary, he fights for the new world. At times he loses his new body and new vision, but he does everything he can to retain it and live his new life.
We are involved in spiritual warfare as believers. Sometimes we walk in the newness of life we’ve been given, sometimes we lose all sense of purpose and power and live like we did before we met Jesus.
At the end of the story, the soldier dies. Or more correctly the body of the soldier dies and he is reborn permanently into his new body. He awakes looking at the face of his beloved.
The body we inhabit will someday die, but we will wake with new bodies without sin and glorious. And we will see with physical eyes and touch with our hands, our beloved, our savior, Jesus.
The theme song and movie clips
The theme song of the movie is “I See You” and here are some of the words:
I see you
I see you
Walking through a dream
I see you
My light in darkness breathing hope of new life
Now I live through you and you through me
. . . . .
Your life shines the way into paradise
So I offer my life as a sacrifice
I live through your love
You teach me how to see
We aren’t asking to see a mystical world like Pandora. Christians need pure hearts and a vision of God to give us the strength we need to see our world and calling in it in light of God’s purpose. When we have that, we will see life with a beauty and purpose we were blind to before. We will fight spiritual battles inside our hearts and in our calling in our world, because we see things others do not see. Someday we will die, but we will awaken to a clear and unending vision of a world far more glorious than Pandora.
Below is a video of the theme song with images from the movie. Watch it and think about how, if a sci-fi fantasy could create such a beautiful world, how much more glorious is the life our Lord has planned for us, now and forever. If you’ve seen the movie, it will help you remember the beauty of it. If you haven’t seen it, simply enjoy the beautiful images. For all of us, let’s pray and strive for pure hearts so we can see, really see our Lord and the wonder of the life and calling our Lord has given us.
Filed under: Beatitude #6: Blessed are the pure in heart, Meaning of "Pure in Heart" | Tagged: Avatar and Christian commentary, BEATITUDES COMMENTARY, Beatitudes lessons, Bible study lessons, Sci-fi parable, Sermon on the Mount | Leave a comment »