Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blind Seers

Do you ever what the point of this reading, studying, praying, getting close to God stuff is about? Well, for most of my early years following Jesus I thought it was about getting to a certain point of maturity or understanding that translated into perfect living. Avoid all the sin, do all the good, and you would be set, a good Christian, it’s just that easy. So in just three payments of $19.99 you can have the perfect Christian lifestyle! Well, that Price is not right and that logic falls flat on its face. There is this sense of guilt when we fail to meet our envisioned destination, a sense of never being able to be right, get right, or act right. Finding myself, often times, walking around with a heavy burden of failure this abundant life lost its flare and become more of an oppressive ideology than liberating life. Instead of enjoying the abundance from life with God we are too busy worrying about arriving at that destination of good or becoming the perfect Christian. Is this really what Jesus was after? Is this what being a disciple of Jesus looks like?

I was reading the gospel according to John yesterday morning and I found that the answer is no. The Biblical answer to wanting to become all knowing and understanding is actually no. This is huge, ground breaking because it flips a lot of modern ideology on its head. “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind…If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now you claim you can see, your guilt remains (John 9:39-41).” What? How can blind see and those who see be blind? I really try to shed any presumptions I have when reading this stuff, I really want to understand it as it was meant to be understood. Context, it’s truly all about context. What is the environment in which these words were spoke and what did they mean to that environment? After answering this one can begin to understand things that a 3 point sermon with rhyming points may miss.

The Pharisees were this Holy Roller type group of cats who stood firm on the Law, the Law being all that was spoken to Moses at Sinai. They were so committed to this law that they over looked everything else. Obsession is probably the best word to describe their infatuation with this law. Their obsession led them to respond to a man who was born blind that could now see like this, “This man is not from God for he does not keep the Sabbath.” Warm-hearted is not a word I’d use to describe these guys, they were brutal. Reading through the little scuffle between this man and the Pharisees reveals how crazy it all is. They go back and forth on who Jesus is and how he (the blind man) received his sight. “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing,” the man said. To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. That last statement by the Pharisees implies a lot. They are implying that they were not steeped in sin from birth, that they somehow had reached a level of maturity or spirituality that is far greater than any sinner could. They had arrived at a destination. The religious culture of that day ate it up too. The Pharisees were like local celebrities, so holy and upright, in all their ways. Jesus blows through town and ruins all that. I don’t believe Jesus was in the optometry business and couldn’t have cared so much that He came to only give sight to blind people and cruelly make all people with sight blind. That cannot be taken literally, so what does it mean? If you look at this man in the text, he is not religious, not a scholar, and in no way a Pharisee, he had not arrived, and didn’t claim too. In the middle of the Pharisees deep questioning of whether Jesus was a sinner or not the man simply says, I don’t know, but I know I can see now. The blind man could now see because of Jesus. The Pharisees were now being told that if they were blind they would not be guilty of sin; if is a big word here. It entails that the Pharisees are not blind, but actually see (or so they say). Jesus is saying that those who do not have it all figured out, have not arrived, are not religiously elite, are the ones who will really see. They are blind by all means and can only see because of Jesus. The ones that can comfortably say, I don’t know, but all I do know is that I once was blind, but now I see. Seeing Jesus is life. Those who claim to see, the Pharisees, the religious elite, the ones who have arrived, will actually be blinded, Jesus will shut them off, their arrogant intelligence is actually blinding them from life, from seeing Jesus.

If all that is true then the point of following Jesus cannot be to figure it all out or arrive at the spiritual pinnacle of understanding because it is there that Jesus says, you are just blind. Maybe this entire journey is about seeing Jesus, accepting His healing, His sight, and living our lives as a response to it. Seems to be all about humility to me, staying humble as we follow Christ.
We will mature along the way, but we will never arrive or have it all figured out. Maybe we should be more weary of arriving than trying to pursue it. This is not to say learning is not important. I say that education is the hinge on which humanity swings. Education of what is to be debated, but the principle remains. Education, maturing, learning, they are all means to an end. That end is not to arrive or figure it out though. The end that is justified by the means is to simply follow Jesus, rely on Him, and to never allow your knowledge to glorify yourself, but Him. There are so many kind hearted, Jesus loving people out there who just give up on their faith or maturing because they do not think they can be like the religiously elite around them. To these people I say, Jesus doesn’t want you to ever say that you see, that you’ve got it all figured out, and always look to Him for sight and understanding. May you seek Jesus, follow Him, and learn about Him. May you live in response to Jesus’ abundant life and sight offered, and may you see that being blind is actually they best place you can be because Jesus says you will see.

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