Thursday, September 2, 2010

As Bono once said, 'love is blindness' or 'who turned out the lights?'

Every (week)day we spend a few minutes reflecting on the readings from the daily lectionary.  Those readings can be found a number of places, including here:
So the theme for today, boys and girls, is blindness.  First, in the passage from Acts, several missionaries run into a magician or false prophet and temporarily blind him to prevent him from leading others astray - or as Paul says 'from making crooked the straight paths of God', great line.  Then in our gospel reading, from John 9, we read about Jesus healing a blind man by giving him sight for the first time in his life (the passage says the man had been blind from birth).
To get at the point for today, I think we have to start at the beginning of the passage from John.  Here as Jesus and his disciples seen the blind man, the disciples take the opportunity to ask a question, essentially who is to blame for the man's blindness?  The man or his parents?  
[A piece of context that you may have picked up on, but just in case: In Jesus time the common, overwhelming opinion of both the general public and religious leaders and scholars was that afflictions like blindness, or disease or other malformities were the direct result of sin in the individual or family life of those afflicted.  So, if this man had once had sight and then gone blind, in most people's minds it would have been a settled question - his blindness was a result of something, some sin he had committed.  But since he was blind from birth it was more of an open question: was it the result of some sin he was going to commit (kind of a karma pay it forward) or was his blindness the result of the sin of his parents?  People of Jesus day would have most likely had differing opinions about this, but almost without exception they would have assigned blame to either the man or his parents.]
It should be to no one's surprise, however, that Jesus dismisses both of those options and instead gives a completely different one: The man was born blind so that God's glory and works may be revealed in him.  
And this is the connection to the story in Acts.  Although the circumstances are very different - and in one case it is blindness being healed and in another it is someone becoming blind, in both circumstances the blindness is used by the Holy Spirit to point to the power of God and to draw them into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  
So there are two points I want to make here.  First, God can and does use everything, every circumstance, every failure, even every disease or disaster to reveal his power, grace, mercy and love.  The love of God, demonstrated in Jesus Christ knows no limit and is able to redeem everything in this world for God's good purpose: even failure, even sickness, even disaster.
Second, it is often not in our strengths but in our weaknesses that God reveals himself to us and to others through us.  When we are confident in our own abilities and 'gifts' it is all too easy to overlook God, but when we are made aware of our failings and shortcomings God often shines through in new, amazing and powerful ways. 
So, today as we look at our lives, our situations and our circumstances let us definitely rejoice in the good things God has given us, but let us also look at our afflictions, our failures and our difficulties to see how God is going to use them to show his power, grace and mercy and in so doing draw us and those around us into relationship with him.  
God bless.


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