I am fed through the week by a variety of pastors I listen to via their podcasts. (Among my favorites is Mike Breaux, currently serving as Weekend Teaching Pastor at Heartland, Illinois.) Hitting the greenbelts here around Kingwood is a lot more enjoyable for me when I have Toby by my side… and a favorite preacher or song or prayer time in my ear!
This last week, I’ve been following Mike in a series grounded in John Ortberg’s The ME I Want to Be. Along the way, he visited the beatitudes – and, more specifically, for my note here, the “pure in heart.” His discussion on that beatitude’s translation helps unpack/define, just a little bit more, the “authenticity” which I seek in my “dance” – with God, self, others
Mike began by sharing that a word/concept akin to “pure in heart” is to be found in the Latin word, “sincera.” His talk about it’s origins in ancient pottery production had me doing a bit of “Googling” to see what I could find in writing:
In ancient Greece, pottery was commonly used for the storage of food, oil and wine. The type of pot most typical of the period was known as an amphora. The profession of potter was a common one because of the high demand. Any market or street was likely to have at least one pottery shop.
When a batch of pots was fired in the kiln, some of them could develop cracks during the process. This made them less valuable, as they could not be used to store liquids. However, unscrupulous potters would sometimes fill in the cracks with a special type of wax, and then paint over the patched area.
People in search of an honest product would avoid potters with a reputation for using wax on their products.
A dealer with integrity would proudly advertise his wares as “sincera”, or without wax. Eventually, this phrase became the word “sincere”, which Webster’s Unabridged defines as: “Being in reality what it appears to be; having a character which corresponds with the appearance; not falsely assumed; genuine; true; real.”
And so, we find ourselves translating and transposing the beatitude: “Blessed are the sincera” – those “without wax”… because they have no cracks, no need for cover-up.”
Against this definition, Mike goes on to make his point – the point of this post, the definition of the authenticity I seek:
“I think Jesus is saying, ‘blessed are you when you come to God without wax.’ Blessed are you when you say ‘God, here I am, cracks and all. You know me inside-out. Search me, O God, see if there’s something else in me that we need to work on because I do want to be the best version of me that I can possibly be. I want to yield myself to You, O God. I am tired of trying to fake you out. I am tired of trying to fake other people out. I just want to be real’… And you know what it says at the end of that [beatitude]? ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God!’”