column – Claiming to See
Published 6:51 pm Friday, February 3, 2023
Maybe you’ve experienced something like this. An accident happens and three witnesses all say they saw it. But when their recollections are gathered no one seemed to see quite the same thing.
A mother and son live hours apart. They discuss a news story that happened on a national network. They both claim to have seen the story, but they come to quite different conclusions about what they saw. Both are claiming to have seen, but both can’t be right.
Debi Thomas says in her article about the story in John 9: 1-34, “To claim to see, yet still to be blind, may be one of the worst sins. We ask too soon for God’s blessings, but we commit too slowly to follow God’s will.”
All of us have been at the bedside with the families of dying loved ones. Yet not all of those individuals or families are faithful followers themselves of Christ. Still in that moment they beg, plead and bargain with a God they don’t really serve. I understand completely why they do. Yet, what they can’t see is that they are attempting to draw on a faith they may not really have.
As we struggle to make sense of what we are blind to, we have to redirect our vision to the places where it counts the most. Our faith calls on us to focus more on God and less on the world around us. Perhaps if we did, we might make more sense of the world around us. Ironically.
The man born blind in our scripture was healed, and that brought on a whole other set of issues he would have to deal with. Because now the disciples’ and the pharisees’ blindness becomes the issue.
So, how do you or I see beyond our own blindness? Clarity of spiritual sight is what this story in John is about. It’s also a cautionary tale about how blind our spiritual sight can be. The disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned?” Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned.”
Jesus spit in the dirt to make the mud. Then, he massaged the mud into the eyes of the blind man. This is an intimate, up close moment they are living. Then, the man washed and regained his sight. He knows it was Jesus who healed him.
How many times have you had to say, “I don’t know” about Jesus? Sometimes, that’s the only honest answer we have when the mysteries of the spirit confront us.
How many times in my ministry have I had to say, “I don’t know” if I were being honest? The man knew little or nothing about Jesus, but he knew a lot about the fact that he was healed.
It is not lost on me that in so many of Jesus’ stories, the professional religious folks are the most blind. In this man’s case, since they couldn’t explain it they demonized it.
The hard reality is that just as in this story, some of the spiritually blindest church folks I have known over the years were among some of the biggest Bible-study and Christian book junkies there were. When we claim to see, but are actually blind to what God is doing, that is an acute spiritual condition that we should want to do something about.
Trouble is, with this particular lack of sight, we don’t always know we’re blind. It breaks my heart as a pastor watching loudly professing Christians go out and live like there’s not a lick of Jesus in them.
When the disciples of Jesus’ time reacted to a blind man by asking what his sin was, the irony is that they themselves had the weakest eyesight in this story. When the people of Jesus’ time started using his healing to push for something they could penalize the man’s family for, they were the very least-sighted in this story.
When the people of Jesus’ time decided to come after Jesus as though there were a bad day on which to help anyone find health and wholeness, they were just flat-out blind.
What can you or I do? Be sure that you’re seeing as well as you should be. That includes the church itself: are you looking at it through your own consumer lenses? Or, is there another way we might try seeing?
You and I need to be sure we’re looking at the world the way Jesus does. His viewpoint, his sight, is the only one Christians are supposed to be using.
Dr. Charles Qualls is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.