Toxins in the Heart

When Jesus told us “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8), he was clarifying a method for experiencing God as well as a clarion call to find God in a new way.Religion can become so polluted. They pathways to God can become very congested. Jesus brings clarity to the way we find God. The method that Jesus uses for us to experience God is more simple than complex and more uncomplicated than we might expect.  In the United States alone, there are now more than 175 different denominations--all claiming to believe the right thing and to do religion in the right way. But who is really right? Who has the pure and unadulterated form of religion?Jesus helps us and rather than turning to religion, we can turn to a teaching that helps us really experience God in a way we all long to do in our lives. We experience God when our hearts are pure. A heart that is sincere is the heart that has the breakthroughs and epiphanies where light shines in the dark spaces. The alternative to a pure heart helps us truly capture what a pure heart is not.Polluted. Complicated. Murky. Divided. These are all descriptor words they help us understand purity in a more profound way. A polluted heart is a heart that has been exposed to toxins, contaminants and poisons. These vary from person to person and culture to culture. These toxins may be emotional garbage from our pasts, cutthroat competition, loveless and cheap sex, magic show religion and paranoid loneliness.   These, and other forms of murky living and shallow values, erode the pure nature of a heart’s capacity to experience God. How do you see toxins in the church today?  How can we practice more of an anti-toxic way of loving God and keeping life a bit more simple?In other stories and teachings of Jesus, he elevates the posture of a child likeness as being the real way adults should lean into their faith. In the child’s heart—we find a zeal of passion that is resilient; an abandonment of care that is refreshing and a singleness of mind to do one thing and not multi-task. We have much to learn from children should we take the time to allow them to be our teachers perhaps more than PhD s and experts.We tend to make everything more complicated that it perhaps should be and I find a propensity to bring our own human systems and man-made matrices into how we do faith. [tweetthis]To become more simple in our approach to God--is my friends to become more pure. [/tweetthis]Pure religion is really boiled down to two things from one of the authors of a book in the Bible: taking care of widows and orphans and that's it! But look at all of our programs!  Look at our lists of things we all need to do in order to be right--or live right? What has happened to us? People can make a lot of spiritual garbage. Our garbage piles up and hurts us. Spiritual Pollution--that is what has happened to us.Like the Quakers sang years ago, these words are a clarion call to us today: "'Tis a gift to be simple and a gift to be free." I often work with pastors across the world. The private lament of so many is, "Things in church are way to complicated."  "Isn't there a more simple way to do all of this, Steve?"  Why, yes, yes there is. It begins with one's own heart--not trying to fix systems or repair a religion. When one person chooses to be more pure--then a more pure form of worship, joy and life will soon result.Would you swim in that or drink that?Purity of heart is a daily filtering task. There is a lot we need to take out of our hearts in order to experience the purity Jesus is calling us to. What we watch for entertainment; what we give our minds to read about; what we take in---affects the purity of our heart. It’s also important to be aware that often it is what’s inside that broods and festers that snares us: seething anger; rotting envy; lurking malice—these and other internal vices divide the heart and form internal bastions we fortify rather than dismantle in our life and work.To be pure is to attend the daily task of seeking to live well from the inside out.