Sunday, September 01, 2013

Missing the Point (John 9:13-25)

Devotional excerpt for today:

We are not surprised to find Jesus in conflict with religious leaders after performing an amazing miracle. They used to call it the “evil eye” of jealousy, where you view the success of others as a threat and you strike out to bring them down a notch.

The Pharisees in this story are symbolic of anyone in leadership who is intimidated by “lessers” or outsiders. Their protest that Jesus has broken the Sabbath is weak—one that no Pharisee with any depth would have made sincerely at the time. The complaint seems more like a petty individual looking for an excuse—and a poor one at that. Jesus has done something they cannot do. They are supposed to be the ones with a connection to God. Who does this nobody think he is? By contrast, Christian love rejoices with those who rejoice. When something genuinely good happens to someone else, the Christ-like thing is to be happy for them, even if we wish it had happened to us instead.

It is not at all likely that there was a universal policy at the time of Christ that believers were to be kicked out of synagogues for believing in Jesus. It did happen from time to time after Jesus rose from the dead to be sure. It happened with Greek-speaking Jewish believers in Jerusalem around the time of Stephen. It happened in Rome in AD49 when Claudius kicked believing Jews out of Rome. Oppression is always close at hand in a small community where a few bullies can wield inappropriate power. We can be sure that this sort of thing was happening at the time John was written. Its audience did face the choice of serving Christ or continuing to be part of the synagogue.

How often do we miss the point because of some personal preoccupation or defense mechanism? Perhaps Jesus is doing something spectacular in front of us and we cannot bring ourselves to participate because it somehow makes us feel small or exposes our deficiencies. “Is Jesus a sinner?” “I’m not sure, but did you know I had been blind all my life?” So a new person comes to your church seeking God. What a great thing! Then we criticize the way she is dressed or the way he talks. Someone does a good thing that everyone can see. “Ah, but is their heart that we cannot see really good?” We should be pleased when good is done, even when it is done by someone we do not like.

Father, heal us of our petty jealousies. Make us bigger people than we are, people who rejoice when good is done.

“Never make excuses. Your friends don't need them and your foes won’t believe them.” John Wooden, in Wooden


Susan Moore said...

Part one of two.
I love that story in John. I always cry when I read it. (And it makes me wonder how many Christ-followers thought they had to put mud on a person's blind eyes to heal them! And how many times God met them at their level of faith?)
Jesus IS doing something spectacular right in front of us; He's healing people. Miraculously. But because some of His people who attend local churches are incredibly proud, combined with being indoctrinated with false or incomplete teachings, they are missing this amazement. So, if the Good Shepherd's sheep know His voice, who, then, are we? We are the outsiders. Initially unknown to me as well, He has been growing a people who refuse to enter the local church because of those false teachings. These people study their Bibles, cover to cover like I do, and know the truth about God. They can heal and be healed. But God cannot heal us when we teach false things about Him, when we deny the truth about Him (Romans 1:18-22).
It's true. When understood in the context of doing these things in the name of the Lord, or in the Spirit, Mark 16:16-18 is true. I don't care if it wasn't part of the earliest manuscripts that we have available to us today, it does not teach anything contrary to other teachings in the New Testament. In fact, it spells it all out really well; and I think that's the part that rebellious people don't like.
Comparing our level of faith to our Pastor's, or teachers, or any other human's, is not the correct measuring stick to use. We need to only compare where we are to where the Word is growing us to be, and know that He always meets each of us at our level, and does not ever condemn us, no matter who we are or where we are in our growing.
I had decades of over-the-top incredibly horrible things to live through in my life, and the Spirit who is now in me goaded, challenged or cradled me through every minute of it. Otherwise I would not be here today to tell you about it. I would never wish that life on anyone, but if that's what it would take to open church-goers eyes to the truth about God, to the current and present eternal power and divine nature of the one true God who saved me and healed me, and to love Him with no-holds barred, then so be it. Bring it on, Lord. Humble us.

Susan Moore said...

Part two of two.
But first know this: With zero doubt I know that God put me at CCC, and He put me at IWU. And He never condemns us, so He is not here to condemn you through me, either. I know that in any Godly relationship both parties are to give to the other out of the abundance that the Lord has given them. So if you (representatives of CCC and IWU) teach correct things, He will use something about me, somehow, to strengthen you and uphold you for His cause. But before you get happy about that, I should tell you a secret: I'm just the mud.
For instance, people have been healed through me, through their reading my online testimony and through my praying for healing when my hands get really hot (my hands getting hot are a sign I am to pray for healing). That sounds really good until one fully grasps that rarely do I know that a person is sick, or what about them is sick, so I usually don't pray for the 'correct' thing. Furthermore, often when I'm in a group I don't even pray for the correct person. But somehow, by some mysterious way, a stranger to me gets healed and it's a healing they've been waiting for. It truly surprises me as much as it surprises them. It keeps me very humble to realize that I’m merely the obedient but bumbling idiot in the middle.
Thanks for listening.
Love in Christ,
P.S. If you want to test me on this, get on the city bus and talk to people. Learn about them, and for the few minutes you’ll know them, love them. Love them like Jesus loves you. Repent and pray before you go, commit your will to His, and pray the whole time you are there, and don’t look or speak like you’ve ever been in a church. And remember, it’s true: You can heal people, too. Not because of who you are, Dr. Scheck, but in spite of who you are.

Ken Schenck said...

Thanks for sharing!