Friday, July 18, 2008

Blessed are the pure in heart

My dad died a year ago this weekend. The Lord used dad widely and powerfully. One reason, maybe the primary reason, was his simple purity of heart toward Christ.

Our doctrines are lenses through which we see Christ. The clearer the lens, the better. But less clear lenses are not opaque. The Object we all desire to see is the person of Christ himself, and dad succeeded in diverse Christian settings because he had no passion but Christ.

Dad understood that Christians with less clear doctrinal lenses still see Christ, if not with precise theological formulation then at least with Spirit-given intuition. Christians with more clear doctrinal lenses are advantaged conceptually to receive sharper, more detailed views of the One we all love. But dad also knew that anyone’s spiritual sight can be darkened with sin and unbelief, no matter how finely ground the doctrinal lens. We have Christ, who gives himself to his entire Body; we have doctrinal lenses, which tend to be denomination-specific; we also have eyes, our own personal capacity for spiritual sight.

The way it nets out, the Christians with less clear doctrinal formulation – for every one of us, that’s some other denomination – might actually behold his glory more wonderfully. And the Christians with more clear doctrinal formulation – that’s our group, whoever it may be – might actually behold his glory less wonderfully. The ideal, of course, is clear doctrinal lenses and clear spiritual sight together. And when that grace is given to a lot of people at once, it starts feeling like revival. But no amount of lens-grinding can offset darkness in our very eyes.

“Is it rational to suppose that those whose minds are full of spiritual pollution and under the power of filthy lusts should have any relish or sense of divine beauty or excellency, or that their minds should be susceptive of that light that is in its own nature so pure and heavenly?” (Edwards, A Divine and Supernatural Light).

Dad valued Christ so much that he valued doctrine. He also knew that dull eyes cannot see Christ well even with good doctrine. It’s why dad lived in daily, cheerful humility. He stayed low before the Lord with grand thoughts of his glory. He confessed his sins promptly. He didn’t think much of himself, and he thought the best of others. All of it sprang from one pure impulse in his heart – a reverent adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that clarity of sight, looking out through his good doctrine, received daily views of Jesus in his glory.

Well done, dad.