The purity that conquers hate
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). This powerful beatitude that Christ Jesus gave to his followers in the Sermon on the Mount is full of promise. It tells us that with purity comes the ability to know—to see—God and His kingdom.
To Christians—followers of Jesus’ teachings—welcoming purity into their lives is a constant goal. To be pure is to allow goodness, gentleness, peace, and unselfed love to govern your thinking and actions. It means to strive to be free from impure thinking in every form, whether it’s hatred, sensuality, deceit, etc.
The quality of purity is to be fought for and defended. Why? Because only with pure and humble motives do we truly love God and are Christian. And it is only through purity that we can obey Jesus’ command that we love one another. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). To love as the Master loved, we must be pure and unselfish.
The quality of purity is to be fought for and defended.
It is our duty to be alert to those things in human character that would take us off track in achieving that goal. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “The good in human affections must have ascendency over the evil and the spiritual over the animal, or happiness will never be won. The attainment of this celestial condition would improve our progeny, diminish crime, and give higher aims to ambition” (p. 61).
What would keep us from expressing purity of thought? How about entertaining angry feelings toward someone at school, an unkind co-worker, or even a family member who is difficult to get along with? Perhaps there is someone who is always trying to make you feel uncomfortable, putting you down in front of others, and making you feel silly or unworthy? And to make things worse, they don’t stop when you try to be nice to them.
As a young boy, my deepest fear came after school. For reasons I did not know, some boys in my school repeatedly beat me up on my way home. They would lie in wait, and even though I changed my route home, they would find me. There were several of them who took turns hitting and kicking me. I tried in many wrong ways to make friends with them, but none of my efforts worked and the situation grew worse.
When my parents found out, my dad stepped in right away. We lived in a very small town, and one of the boys’ fathers even ended up getting fired from his job. That family moved away. The other boys and their families got the point, and the beatings stopped. But the mental scars lingered for years and caused me deep personal anguish, though I really didn’t understand the effect this had on me.
It wasn’t until I found out that one of my own sons was being picked on at school that I realized there was a major need for healing in my thought. While my son wasn’t hit, there were very mean remarks made about him by classmates, teachers, and administrators. He was repeatedly told he was a bad person, and he was mocked in front of his classmates.
When he told his mother and me about this, my blood boiled and I was ready for war. My thought was anything but pure and loving. All those years of my difficult school days as a boy came back to my remembrance. I could have done what my dad did and had the perpetrators reprimanded; I wanted to make them pay for what they had done. But that was not the solution.
I visited a Christian Science practitioner and told her about my hatred of these individuals. I told her I needed help and joked that I was ready to get a gun. She laughed and asked if that would really solve anything. She said: “Guns get you in prison. Now, you’re a Christian Scientist, one who follows Jesus. Would he get a gun?” She reminded me of Jesus healing the ear of the servant of the high priest in the garden of Gethsemane, after one of the disciples had cut it off (see Luke 22:50, 51).
As we continued to talk, the mesmerism of the extreme anger was broken. The practitioner helped me see how senseless it was to become so angry. As the practitioner prayed for me, any lingering sense of hate in my thinking was dissolved, including all those years of pent-up resentment; the resentment was replaced with true, pure Christian love. I was so free of anger that later, when asked to help the individuals who had picked on my son with a project at the school, I did so without malice. Purity had conquered hate.
The bullying of my son stopped, and he has gone on to become one of the best dads I have ever known. My son’s Christly love for his children is a blessing to them and to their school. His children are also very loving. He truly exhibits something of that Christly love Jesus so fully manifested when he said, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek (see Matthew 5:39). The thing is, we don’t turn the other cheek to keep getting hit and to be a punching bag for others. To turn the other cheek means to turn from hate to divine Love. Our purpose as followers of Jesus isn’t to get beat up; it’s to heal and to prove the omnipotence of Love. Only divine Love expressed can destroy hate. In this case, turning to Love not only prevented me from doing something I would have regretted, but also protected my son.
Only divine Love expressed can destroy hate.
Nonetheless, to remain pure and follow Jesus’ instruction can feel, at times, like hard work. It can feel very difficult to turn the other cheek, to take control of your thinking, and to pull yourself out of the downward spiral that would lead one to attempt to retaliate in some form. But Jesus has told us: “Blessed are the peacemakers: … Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: … Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:9–12).
Did Jesus really know what he was talking about? Yes, his life speaks for itself. His pure example when faced with unspeakable ridicule and persecution is a model for us all. Knowing the necessity of his crucifixion and resurrection to prove the fullness of what he taught, he allowed his persecutors to flog him and nail him to a cross, in order to kill him. Through it all, and after his resurrection from the grave, he remained pure and forgiving.
Understanding the teachings of Jesus blesses us with true spiritual power—the power to overcome hate and the ways of the flesh. Here today, 2,000 years later, Jesus’ words and works are showing us the true basis of purity and Christian brotherhood, and by following his teachings we are leaning on the Christ as we follow God. As the sixth tenet of Christian Science reads: “And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure” (Science and Health, p. 497).
By defending our inherent purity and keeping ourselves free of hatred, we experience the love of God and feel the joy and peace that come in understanding the presence of God. Then we know ourselves as made in God’s image and likeness, and Jesus’ promise is fulfilled, “for they shall see God.”