The Power of a Pure Heart

Last Wednesday, after Pastor Steve Barke's beautiful grave side service, I spent most of the drive back up from Oceanside thinking of what a great champion of Truth he had been. Oh, yes!—throughout all the days of his ministry at Beacon's Bible Church in Encinitas. Steve and I began our ministries at about the same time: I've always viewed our two as sister-churches because of that. And because of our kindred spirit. Steve never hesitated to speak Truth to this world that is so tossed and torn by lies and slander. He made no apologies. He would never yield ground to any so-called 'thought police' even if they came poundin' on his door! God bless him for that! And God bless you, too dear Renee: you are so much a part of what Steve is! About half-way up the coast, my thoughts turned to Dr. Stockman: another great, unapologetic champion of Truth. Steve was just like him. I'm referring to the great protagonist in Henrik Ibsen's wonderful play—my favorite of them all—An Enemy of the People. There are a lot of wonderful Norwegian literary works, but this one tops the list in my book. If you haven't read An Enemy of the People, go get yourself a copy. You won't regret it. It's easy to read—only 90 pages long—and you probably won't put it down once you get started. The story is all about "purity" and "pollution" and the deadly difference between the two. The "pollution", as the story begins, is seeping into a quaint little seaside resort, but in the end you suddenly realize: no, it's been seeping into the hearts of these people. And the "purity"? Oh, that will be found in the heart of one man—and one man only, of all the men in town. His name is Dr. Stockman! I won't spoil the story by telling you the details, but something terrible is happening to this charming little town. Dr. Stockman is the man who discovers it and he doesn't hesitate to make it known. And, of course, that gets him in trouble. People don't want him to warn about the pollution. For the sake of the town's lucrative tourism industry, everyone thinks he should hush things up. Pretty soon, Dr. Stockman is incredibly unpopular: he loses his practice, loses all standing in society and finally ends up being hated by everyone in town. In their eyes, he is "an enemy of the people." The central theme revolves around two burning questions: Do you do what is right, even when it is costly to do so? Do you speak the Truth when Truth is despised? I'm sure, you know how Dr. Stockman answered those questions. The final scene—and I absolutely love it!— takes place in the doctor's living room, with his wife and three kids all huddled around him, on the floor, behind a sofa. Rocks are crashing in through the windows. There is shattered glass all over the floor. And Dr. Stockman has his arms around them all, hugging them to himself. There is defiance in his eyes and exultation in his voice, as he calls out to his kids: "Save those rocks, we'll one day make a monument with them!" I love it! The last thing you see, as the curtain comes down, are the looks on the faces of Mrs. Stockman and the kids. They are looking up at the world's most hated man, and what they an absolute giant! The common denominator for people like Stockman?—or Steve Barke!—a "pure heart". It's just that simple. People of pure heart don't mix with "guile" and "subterfuge". Oil will mix with water before that ever happens! A pure heart is a powerful thing, no matter how hard the world tries to crush it. "His strength was like the strength of ten, because his heart was pure," we read about one of Tennyson's knights. Jesus said something even greater, in this regard: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!" Mt 5:8 Oh, yes they will! When no one else can see Him, they will! Peter tells some of the women in his church that their unbelieving husbands "... will be won over without a word...when they see the purity and the reverence of your lives." 1 Pet 3: 1-2 And Paul tells us all, in his letter to the Philippians, that the pure in heart will... "...shine like stars in the universe, blameless and pure, children of God, without fault in a crooked and depraved generation." Phil 2: 15 America was founded by men and women who longed to be pure in heart; and who longed to be right with God. They taught their kids to long for it too. And that, dear family, is precisely why God has blessed this nation for so long. But—oh!—will He bless her still? How alarming, the "pollution" that is seeping in now, into every quarter and corner of our land! And the two great burning questions, dear family of Christ, have not changed in the slightest: Will you do what is right, even when it is costly? Will you speak the Truth when the truth is hated? Yes? Oh, then you have a "pure heart" too! See you Sunday! RAS

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