THE CHARACTERISTICS OF GOD
In my previous essays I have pointed out that the first four Beatitudes are designed to remove man’s ego-centered self to the background and leave room for the characteristics of God. The three spiritual qualities Jesus uses are Mercy, Purity and Peacemaking. We have already talked about Mercy and Purity of Heart as qualities for the Christian to develop and live by. I want to note here what Jesus says are the results of developing each of them.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”. These words offer a wonderful reward, for
each of us, who are all sinners, seriously need all the mercy God can show if we are to have a chance of Heaven. However, in addition to a wonderful promise, there is a serious condition stated. Unless we are willing to forgive and show mercy to those we encounter on the road of life, no matter who they are or how they behave, then we have no expectation that God will have mercy on us. God’s mercy has to be in spite of our sins, and the mercy we show to others must have the same quality. No matter what they deserve, according to our standards, they must still be the object of our mercy and our concern. If
God were not a God of this kind of mercy, none of us could be saved. We must all be thankful that
God is a God of mercy.
The next Beatitude says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. Purity of heart is so constant a need in our human behavior, and is so difficult to maintain, that we must depend on God’s mercy and our faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ to help us when we fail. But as we strive to maintain purity of heart, Jesus says when we achieve it we “shall see God”.
The disciples once asked Jesus to show them the Father. He said, “When you have seen me, you have seen the Father”. Obviously He was not saying that He physically looked like God. To the woman at the well in Samaria, Jesus said, “God is Spirit”. This means that God is not visible. He is what His characteristics are and what they require to be pleased. Jesus was merciful, pure in heart and a peacemaker wherever He went. Seeing Him, with these characteristics, was seeing God, for this is what God is.
Our last essay in this series will emphasize what
it means to imitate God, the Peacemaker.