Monday, October 21, 2019

Belief and Blindness

The Bible is full of stories and examples of belief.  Most of these stories present some sense of struggle as people wrestle with the many aspects of believing in God.  Jonah struggled with a God who would send him to proclaim the demise of Nineveh and then forgive the entire bunch.  Jeremiah struggled with the depravity and idol worship of a people who he knew God still loved deeply.  Isaiah struggled with describing the bigness of a God who became small enough to become a suffering servant that gave His life for people like you and me.  And in the Gospel of John we find the struggle to understand blindness (physical and spiritual).

In Bob Buford's book Half Time Buford reflects about how belief and sight are essential to being fully engaged in the game.  If you watch sports you will find the talking heads speak about belief.  They don't always know they are doing it, but they talk about a team that has lost its way.  Yesterday they said this about the Atlanta Falcons (now with a 1-5 record).  I apologize for bringing this up to any of my Atlanta fans, but being real and honest is part of seeing and believing.  In the case of the Falcons, they have talent, maybe the best receiver in football (Julio Jones) and a great quarterback (Matt Ryan).  But as the announcers talked about the overall team they said two things ... "the coach has lost the locker room" and "they have lost their belief in the teams leadership."  So ... let's talk about belief and blindness.

First, belief is important to Jesus.  John 3:16 says ... "For God so loved the world that He gave His only, begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  Belief is important.  The words here don't refer to a shallow, passing whim of belief.  They mean belief into the plan, the purpose and the power of God.  If you are struggling with belief, do you trust, rely on and truly believe in God's leadership going forward in the person of Jesus?

Second, sight is important to Jesus.  In John 9 Jesus restores the sight of a man born blind and Jesus is clear to describe why this healing happened.  The disciples are told that the man is not blind because of something he or others had done.  Jesus restores the sight of the man so the 'works of God will be displayed.'  God is doing works in our midst.  Sometimes these are hard to see.  Other times we are just not looking.  God desires us to see His works on display.  Some of you might say that a beautiful sunset or a stark mountain view are manifestations of the 'artist' that painted those wonders, and I would have to agree.  But I think we most often marvel at natural beauty and miss supernatural beauty.  We miss the miracle of a young man saying 'I'm all in" to God's program ... 'put me in coach!'  We don't view the miracle of interactions with friends, family and our church as 'beauty,' 'grace,' 'presence' and 'power' of God.  We somehow place Jesus somewhere off in the future and don't see God's kingdom in the next pew over.  In John 9, Jesus is expressing God's plan for us to have restored sight!

Finally, the spiritual is important to Jesus.  We are (as one author said) spiritual beings having a human experience.  John 9 is as much about the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees as it is about restoring the sight of a man born blind.  At the end of the story the man born blind sees just fine, while the Pharisees remain sightless to the presence of the Son of God (the one in whom our belief brings everlasting life).  How is your spiritual vision?  Do you see beyond the black and white daily routine to the beautiful colors of God's kingdom?  Have you gone to the pool of Siloam (the word means 'sent') and returned seeing, sensing, seeking, serving and shouting the praises of the God who gave you that sight?  Will you respond to those who see you have changed in the same way the blind man responded ... "I was blind, but now I see!."

In Scripture belief and blindness are two sides of the same coin.  They are way too close for comfort.  Do we buy into the plan of the coach, or are we lost and blind, wandering through the game of life with only our wits, our wisdom and our own way?  That is the question in John 9 ... and that is the question for you and me.  As for me, 'put me in coach ... I'm ready to play!'  Randy

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