Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Year of Jubilee: The blind shall see

John 9:24-34 So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, "Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner."
He then answered, "Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see."
So they said to him, "What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?"
He answered them, "I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?"
They reviled him and said, "You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from."
The man answered and said to them, "Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing."
They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?" So they put him out.

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.
Helen Keller, atheist

Albert Einstein once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." What he meant was this: knowledge is finite. Imagination can take a person into the infinite. Knowledge includes only what has been already developed. Imagination is about our dreams, our visions, which have no limits.

So we have this story of some guy born blind. He was minding his own business, when along comes Jesus and “poof” he can see. Up to that point he could hear the noises, but not understand what much of it was. Everything he understood came by feeling and listening. He would turn his face to the sun and feel the warmth. He would plunge his hand into the water and fell the coolness of it. Someone would try to describe how the liquid was clear and he would struggle with that reality. The colors of cloth and the world around him were confusing, for red and green and brown all felt the same. I can’t imagine the shock to his brain when his eyes were opened. The colors I think would have been the first thing. Then the shapes, the three dimensions of site. His world that used to be as big as his reach was now boundless to the horizons and beyond. The stars at night that would have been just imagination were now the reality of sparkling lights. Can you imagine being blind from birth and then suddenly seeing? God did that. As you read the story, you see the man not only had his sight, but he had understanding. The whole situation pointed to Jesus being God. When he stated the simple fact, he got in big trouble.

In 1880 Helen Keller was born perfectly normal. At 19 months she had a short but serious illness that left her not only blind, but deaf. By the time Helen was 7 the family was desperate for help for the girl had become almost uncontrollable. Enter Anne Sullivan and a month later the miracle happened. Anne and Helen ended up at the pump and as Anne held Helen’s one hand under the water she spelled water by letters into her other hand. At that moment, Helen saw that which she didn’t previously. She understood words and language. It changed her and she went on to be an advocate for the blind and a social activist for many years, passing away when she was 88.

Vision is more than just eyesight. Vision speaks to understanding what is seen. In a sense, Helen Keller lacked sight, but she gained vision as Anne Sullivan worked with her. In Luke 11 Jesus compares our vision to a lamp and talks of darkness and understanding. Jesus said vision is about understanding God, and His work in us. It is akin to repenting, for Jesus makes a reference to those in Nineveh long ago who heard the word of the Lord from Jonah and repented. They saw the truth about who they were before God and it changed them. Their vision was changed, healed. The Year of Jubilee is about having the eyes of our hearts opened up. I pray often as a pastor that our eyes would be opened to see what God would show us today. I do that because I know God speaks to each of us. There is an Old Testament prophecy about the young men having visions and the old men dreams. This prophecy is fulfilled in our lives today as we listen and hear from God.

Let me put vision in perspective for you and I today by asking you a rhetorical question: “If you could do anything you wanted to in the world, money and health being no object, what would it be?” Think about it. How different would your life be from what it is today? Let’s ask the same question of our church - “If we could do anything in our church, if we could be anything, what would it be?” Take a moment and if you have a pen, write down a thought or two. I am not going to look at it or ask you to share it, but just between you and God, what comes to mind? How different are your dreams from the reality of today? If someone asked that man born blind the day before Jesus came and touched him, what would his answer be? Would he have the foresight, so to speak, to consider a life where he could see, or would that have been beyond his dreams, his vision? Why do we have that difference between what we think life could be like and what it actually is like?

Why don’t we realize those dreams we have? Let me suggest it is a vision problem. Some of these dreams are ours and not our Creator’s. We too often pursue our own plans, our own ideas, and in doing so we miss God’s plans, God’s dreams for us. While I was talking to Bonnie this past week I noticed behind her chair the dog was acting funny. As I watched, Poppy started spinning around in circles, trying to grab this black furry thing that was teasing her from behind. Actually, it WAS her behind that she was chasing - she was getting in the way of herself. Poppy is not the only dog to get in the way of herself. America’s Funniest Videos had their final “clip that changed the world” on TV about a month ago. My favourite video was this dog sitting on a couch chewing a bone. She started growling at this thing that was sneaking up beside her. I am sure the dog thought it was after her bone, and she would snarl and growl and bark and eventually snap at it until it moved away. The thing sneaking up on her was her own hind foot. Totally goofy - the dog was so caught up on itself. What are you caught up on? What has distracted you from the vision God has? When God calls us to dream, He calls us to lose ourselves.  He calls us to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” When we pursue our own stuff, we trip on it. When we focus on what we want we get entangled in it. We need to repent of pursuing our own stuff.

The bigger question is not just our selfishness, but our lack of faith. We who are called a people of Faith; we who are told that if we have the faith the size of a mustard seed “we will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to us”; we who acknowledge that our God is the Creator of the ends of the earth somehow think that life is too much for God to handle. If I asked the question, “If God could do anything in this church what would it be?” we would not doubt so much because we have added God to the equation. When we think of God doing it, we have no doubt He can, we often just think He won’t. If we truly believe God has a purpose for this church and that we can grow and become alive and effective in ministry, why do we accept something less? We need to be calling out to God to fulfill His purposes in us and His church. We need to repent for our lack of faith and pursue what He has called us to do and to be.

Maybe you and I need to be healed first. That man born blind suddenly had a whole new perspective and take on life. His vision was radically changed when he was healed and he saw things he never imagined. Yes God provides. He helps us grow through trials and all that stuff. But what if God wants to open blind eyes here in this church this year? We need to consider that we might have vision problems because he is doing some pretty cool things these days around us. God looks at us and asks the question Jesus did of the man by the pool - “Do you want to be healed? Are you ready to take up your palette and walk?” Are you ready to have your life changed because the Lord God of eternity is going to reach down and touch you? Helen Keller’s sight was restored in a different fashion than the man born blind, but both had their sight restored, one physical and one mentally. Afterwards, the man born blind was thrown into a flurry of accusations and judgements. Who was the real blind man in his story? It was the Pharisees who failed to see the Truth of the Messiah right before them. You can be healed like that man born blind. Let the scales of the past that limit our vision fall away with a touch of the Savior’s hands. Let the blindness that comes from the god of this world be healed as you stand firm in the armor of God, as you consider the new world of possibilities that God offers to you and I.

So here we are. God has announced the Year of Jubilee for us, the chance to push that big cosmic reset button. Today is about the challenge of being ready for it. Are you ready to push that button with me? Are you ready to have your eyes opened to a new world of colour and dimension? Are you ready to have your mind opened to new possibilities that maybe what we have done for decades is due for a cleaning and upgrade? That God is leading us where He will, so let us make the commitment that we will do whatever it takes to follow Him!

1 comment:

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