Seeing Is Hard

The readings for tomorrow morning center around light vs. dark, vision vs. blindness.  We are exhorted to sight, to being light, not being dark.  It sounds pretty simple.  But seeing is hard.

Ephesians 5:10 encourages us to try and discern what is pleasing to the Lord.  Frankly, we all think we have this figured out in one way or another.  God wants us to behave properly, right?  That’s the extent of it all too often.  Do the right things.  Don’t do the wrong things.  But if it’s that simple, why is Paul exhorting us to continue to discern?  Could it be that it hasn’t all been discerned yet?  That discernment is an ongoing process necessary because while what is pleasing to the Lord doesn’t change, how we go about it might?
This is the issue in John 9.  The Pharisees think they have it figured out what it means to please the Lord.  Part of what it means is following a bunch of human restrictions on something the Lord initially gave to us – the Sabbath.  But they are blind to what is pleasing to the Lord.  What is pleasing to the Lord is that a man who has been blind all his life can see.  This is the basic thing that everyone misses in this chapter.  This guy can see!  And shouldn’t we be praising God for this rather than trying to figure out who to pin the blame on, as if restored sight could be something displeasing to God, even if it comes on the Sabbath?  In some ways, isn’t restoring sight to the blind something very appropriate to the Sabbath?
Congregations and pastors fall into this particular form of blindness as well.  We’ve been raised in church and shown what it means to be a congregation by faithful generations before us.  And as such, we think we know what it means.  We think we know what is pleasing to the Lord.  And it isn’t that it isn’t pleasing, per se.  But what is the Lord’s greater pleasure?  That we do things exactly the way we’ve always done them, or that the blind are brought to sight – those who wander in darkness are introduced to the Light of the World through the Word of God?  
Sometimes this means changing the question up.  Sometimes, and in certain situations, it requires us to start from scratch.  It requires us to use our God-given common sense and intellects to figure out the best way to bring the Word of God to his creation.  It may not be in the way we expect or even prefer.  It may challenge everything we think we understand about God and church.  Yet if the end result is that people are given sight, and in that sight they receive life, isn’t that what it’s all about?
We have to be careful in this of course.  We have to be wise.  Change for the sake of change isn’t necessarily pleasing to the Lord.  Change in the ways everyone else is changing, without knowing if those changes are really helpful or not is not pleasing to the Lord.  And we must be vigilant never to throw the Christ-child out with the bathwater!  But these caveats are pretty broad, and the latitude and grace we enjoy through our Savior is pretty huge.  It ought to excite us.  It ought to be as exciting as talking to a man born blind who suddenly can see.  If we can see that, there’s a good chance that our eyes are working as well.

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