Lent 2011 - The Jesus Interruption
Each week of this season, we will be entering into the experience of an individual whose life was interrupted by an encounter with Jesus. This week - The Blind Man (John 9)
For your information, last night at Bible study, we decided that the blind man's name is Ray. So be it.
Notice how Ray moves through this story:
He is not seeking Jesus. > He is healed by Jesus. > To his neighbors' questions, he refers to Jesus as "the man called Jesus." > To the Pharisees' challenges, he calls Jesus "a prophet." > When he meets Jesus, seeing him for the first time, he calls him "Lord" and worships him.
For Ray to get from "not seeking" to "worshiping," he travelled a long and winding road; it did not happen in a single big moment. And that long winding road was comprised of some pretty challenging conversations, first with his neighbors and then with his spiritual leaders. And when it came down to it, Ray's experience with Jesus provided him all he needed.
"I don't know any of the answers to your questions," he said, "But I know one thing: I was blind, and now I can see."
His transformation is big. He was an object for discussion, and became the primary subject of the story. He was a beggar, and is no longer. He had never been able to see, and now he sees clearly.
He had no idea who Jesus was, and became his disciple.
I wonder ...
... how many times have I dismissed somebody else's experience and stuck to my understanding instead?
... how often does "The Church" function as the Pharisees in this story, insisting on a codified interpretation of God and minimizing any experience that may be contrary?
... how many radical transformations have happened somewhere other than in "The Church" because the church's tendency is to challenge the Rays of the world instead of welcome them?
... but then again, isn't that challenge just exactly what Ray needed in order to be transformed? It seems as though the challenge of his neighbors and the Pharisees helped him in his process of conversion. Does resistance always have to accompany growth?
... or maybe ... even deeper ... does placing "The Church" in the position of "The Pharisees" in this story give "us" too much credit? I mean, the church is really a whole bunch of Rays getting together to try to see clearly, aren't we? Is doing so the same as equating John's phrase "the Jews" with every Jewish person, when he really meant the Temple leadership?
Jesus says, "We must work the works of the one who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
(Warning: Upcoming metaphor overload...)
So, can we be Rays of Light? Can we rethink church as radiators of Christ? We are not the light; we give testimony to the light. But even more, we are called to reflect the light ourselves, to illuminate darkness with Christ's light, to become transparent so that God's light shines through us.
But that process starts with confessing our blindness, and allowing Jesus to touch us, awakening our spiritual senses so that we can continue the long and winding journey of salvation.