Does anyone ever wonder how stuck they might be in their own paradigm when it comes to faith in Jesus Christ, Church, and how we work out our salvation? I think about this usually on a daily basis as I ponder the Word of God and the truths found within. I am constantly confronted with the questions: Do I really believe Jesus and His Word? And if I do, am I truly walking it out or do I just believe it but then trust in myself and in earthly remedies? Because I have a psychology degree, I tend to analyze myself and other people, what we say vs. what we do, whether we are reactive or proactive, and how we respond in different situations. I have noticed with Christians we usually know what we are to believe, believe we “do” what we believe, but our actions do not always line up with what the Word of God says. In those cases we rationalize pretty well, excuse ourselves, or simply ignore God’s Word, all the while “believing” we are walking in faith. It is at these times I wonder about how “religious” we are, devoted to our own “style” of church, committed to our own “theologies” rather than taking the Word of God at face value. I wonder how blind we have become, how stuck we are, or how far we have strayed from the purity of the precious Word of God. Spiritual blindness is a real concern in the Church today! It is time to see!
There is a vivid story of physical and spiritual blindness in John 9 where we witness the Pharisees being upset with Jesus because on their Sabbath day He healed a man who was born blind. The story begins as Jesus passes by a blind man and the disciples ask Him if the man had sinned or his parents, assuming sin was the cause of blindness from birth. Jesus assured them neither the man nor his parents sinned, but his blindness was so the works of God would be revealed in him. What a beautiful picture of healing! We must continue to seek our Healer no matter how small or large our physical battle because ultimately the works of God will be revealed in us. Let us, as the body of Christ, settle for nothing less!
Then Jesus says “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” V.4-5 Friends, we too must work His works while it is our day, today, while we are alive! We are now light in a dark world. Ephesians 5:8 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” This is our time, people of God! Jesus set the pace and we just need to follow! Notice Jesus “passed by”. Friends, we must get out in the world, pass by people, and take every opportunity to do His works. God will be glorified when we “do” His Word!
The neighbors in this story only knew this man as the blind beggar though there was doubt in the air. “Is this the blind man who sat begging?” Some said, “This is him.” Others said, “He is like him.” They questioned him regarding his sight but did not get the desired answers so they asked to speak to Jesus. However the man did not know where to find Him. We must smile at this scenario as we can “imagine” the frustration of these religious people. The irony in this scenario astounds me since they have the “evidence” and “testimony” of the man right before their eyes, YET, they will not believe. They totally MISSED the miracle!
As people of God we should examine our own reactions “to” and expectation “of” miracles. When was the last actual miracle you saw or experienced? From my experience in asking people about God and His signs and wonders we have very few testimonies and most are ancient history. It is awesome to witness a blind person healed, a dead person raised, and tumors gone! But when I ask people about miracles they experience today I get these responses. “This morning the sun came up and that is a miracle” or “Every breath I take is a miracle” or “Babies being born are miracles”. It is true there is an element of the miraculous in each of these experiences and God is DEFINITELY the source of them all. However, these things were happening when Jesus walked the earth as well, and He still did “miracles”, “signs”, and “wonders”. Can we begin once again to truly BELIEVE God for miracles?
The healing of this blind man caused quite a stir in the community as it would today. This account of healing must stir us up in faith and motivate us expect miracles in our lives and go out and DO the works of our Father. Simply said – this story should cause us to desire more of God. But this account of healing can also reveal to us we how much we have in common with the religious people when we question, doubt, and debate the things of God. If we are not expectant or motivated to go out and do, we are probably missing the transformation we are to experience through faith. Out of our love relationship with Jesus flows the desire to believe in Him and in all He teaches. The questions remain: Do we read these stories in the Bible and do something with them? Will we cooperate with God or stay stuck in our own way of thinking? Do we think we are “good to go” as is? Do we want to “see” or are we blind? Are we like the Pharisees, the religious people, the blind man, or Jesus?
The neighbors brought the man to the Pharisees, a group of religious leaders whose identity was wrapped up in outward observance of rites and forms of piety such as ceremonial washings, fasting, prayer, and observance of the Sabbath, yet they did not exhibit genuine piety. They were self-righteous and hypocritical. Before we think we are immune to such hypocrisy today, let us agree most in the Church today feel their “brand” of Christianity is the “right” or “best” one believing they have the corner on truth just as the Pharisees and the religious people in this account. Most Christians would much rather defend their Church body and its theology than defend the truth of Jesus Christ crucified. We are quick to poke fun of others in the body of Christ who do not do things exactly as we do them or they do things we do not practice. We are quick to defend ourselves rather than listen to the voice of Truth. We often refuse to acknowledge or participate in services, celebrations, or the like which come out of a different background than we are accustomed. We are especially quick to find the place which fits “our needs”, a place “we like and appreciates us”, and a place where “we can be who we want to be” rather than “listening” to where Holy Spirit would have us fellowship.
Very often we are much like the Pharisees and the people of that time, unable and unwilling to receive fresh revelation which will draw us deeper into the things of God. We refuse to relinquish our own wills and act like the Bride whom Jesus is coming back for thus the Church remains fractured. Even those proclaiming unity in the Body of Christ are oftentimes still compromising the Word of God, only offering what appeases the appetites of people, willing to seek unity at any cost rather than through His Spirit.
In John 9: 15-16, the Pharisees “drilled” this former blind man, giving us a perfect example of spiritual blindness. The man had already testified to the people of his healing, the Pharisees had heard but they made him repeat his story. Some of the Pharisees concluded Jesus was not of God because He healed the man on the Sabbath. Others questioned this conclusion because they could not explain how a sinner could open blind eyes thus a division arose among the Pharisees themselves.
The Pharisees let their self-imposed rules for the Sabbath overshadow the healing of a blind man. It is important to observe a Sabbath rest and if we profane it and do our own thing it is sin. But to do the works of God on any day is not sin. Jesus observed the Sabbath but not according to the laws of the religious leaders. We must be very careful not to make our ceremonies, theologies, or religion anything more than they are. We do not want to add or take away from what God intended.
We will finish this story in the next blog! But I hope we are all encouraged to be more expectant! My prayer is we expect more from God and we expect more of ourselves. I pray we will be more like the blind man in this story who basically says, “All I know is I once was blind, and now I see!” Let us see and experience physically, and let us see and experience spiritually! Let us not allow our own paradigms overshadow the greatness of God. These are exciting times! We can change the face of the Church. Only Believe! And begin to “see” everything we believe for in the Word!