“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saving people in groups

I have talked elsewhere about the John 9 story of Jesus healing the blindman (see April 26, 2004 blog entry for one). However, I was touched recently by a passage further on in chapter 9. The blind man who was healed was being questioned by the church leaders.

24A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. "Give glory to God,[b]" they said. "We know this man is a sinner."
25He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"

This is really powerful to me. The blind man apparently did not know who Jesus was, but he is ready to come to his defense. Not because he had come to faith, or because he was convinced by some spiritual argument, but because he was blind and now could see. It strikes me that we as the church have missed a lot of such opportunities in the lives of disabled people. Not that they will necessarily be healed, but that we can be loving and caring to them. I can hear the following conversation...

"You know those Christians are judgemental and intolerant. They are
religious zealots and dangerous. They believe in a nonexistent god."
He replied, "Whether they are what you say or not, I don't know. One
thing I do know is that I was alone and now I have friends. I was excluded
and now I am included. No one loved me and now people love me."

That is the type of opportunity we are missing. Like my posting in 2004, the Glory of God is seen in what we do. "I don't know who their God is, but I am willing to find out because of what they have done for me."

Later, Jesus finds the man. Look at his response to Jesus.

35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do
you believe in the Son of Man?"
36"Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him."
37Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you."
38Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.

I have known people with disabilities who have been accepted instead of being rejected. They have actually responded something to the effect, "Who is he so that I may believe in him?" That is the power of what we do when we reach out to rejected people. We help them to see the Glory of God in the way they are loved and accepted.

One other thing I note about this story is some of the things mentioned about the parents. It doesn't say that the blind man was begging. It just says that Jesus saw a blind man. Jesus says that the parents' sin was not the reason for the man's blindness. The parents tell the leaders,
"Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself." His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews.
I find these three facts/quotations interesting. At least according to this account, the man must have been cared for somehow if he wasn't begging. Perhaps it was his parents. They were not the reason for his blindness due to sin, perhaps in the form of lack of attending to him as a boy, or abuse, or something else they may have done. Also, they say that he can speak for himself. Actually, he speaks very well for himself. I suspect this blind man when he was a blind boy was well cared for and taught well to be able to interact with the church leaders in the way he did. I also note, however, he knows what a prophet is (thats what he says Jesus is), and his response to the church leaders is very telling about his upbringing.

27He answered, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you
want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?"
28Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's
disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29We know that God spoke to Moses, but as
for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from."
30The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."
The church leaders didn't believe he had been born blind so apparently for whatever reason he was not really known to them. But he knows how to exactly hit their buttons by asking if they want to be his disciple and by the statements he makes about who God is. His confidence as a blind man must be from his upbringing. The limited knowlege he has about God must have come from his family. When confronted about their son, the parents are scared, however, it appears they did a pretty good job in taking care of their disabled son. He is cared for, intelligent, and self-confident.

Additionally, he was waiting, on some level, to be told who the Son of Man is so that he might believe in him. First, someone needed to get his attention by addressing the thing that had separated him from the rest of the community, his disability. Jesus heals him, but we can at the least, accept people and refuse to make disability their defining characteristic. We can love and accept people. One other thing, what do you want to bet that as a result of Jesus' intervention into the man's life that his parents who appeared to care for him also became his followers. That is something that we must remember. It could be that when you love and accept people with disabilities, people get saved in groups, as families who are desperate for acceptance for their children and themselves.

PS Happy Birthday Kathi!!


1 comment:

Tomas Karkalas said...

While reading your post my hearty has blossomed out with the hearty smile. Thank you. You are invited to my blogs.
I especially wait for you on Modus Vivendi. This blog reports the life of art therapy club of people with psychiatric disorders. Your comments may make a day to lots there.
Thank you