A Blindness

I have an open notepad file on my computer in which I’m jotting down topics that occur to me, so that they can serve as writing prompts if I need them. Of course as each day passes there are other topics that occur to me. Such as, today, the passage about the healing of the blind man in John 9. Or how Donald Miller is, apparently, arguing that scholars and teachers have been bad for the church, causing arguments about doctrines. He uses that old assumption that them disciples were just a bunch of uneducated fisherfolk and whatnot. Forgetting, or ignoring, the fact that as Jewish men they had received some of the earliest forms of public education, and, even more important, that the disciples had the wee bit of bonus of sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning from him personally. As he taught them! That Jesus, just a son of a carpenter without no formal learnin’, who at age 12 astounded the scholars with all he knew!

I started writing more on each of these topics today but didn’t get very far. I think they engage topics I care about, and have something to say about, but, honestly, I’m bored by them this afternoon as I finally get to writing. That no doubt is a reflection of the general malaise I’ve been feeling all year.

As I sit here and think about not only the fact that I’m bored with making some kind of point about either of those topics, I get to thinking more closely that John 9 passage again and think how I got caught in a trap of my own making.

A lot of religion is about choosing sides. Being right. Being part of the good side. How do we know who is part of the right side and the wrong side? We come up with markers. Some of these markers have a very strong foundation. The Sabbath, for instance. That’s what the Pharisees in John 9 were worried about. Jesus couldn’t be representing God because God ordained the Sabbath, which Jesus, apparently, wasn’t honoring. Oh, those silly Pharisees, we say.

Only I realize we have our own markers. We have our own ways of determining who is in our club and who is on the outside. Maybe it’s how we vote (Left or Right), or what doctrines we have about when Jesus is coming back or where people who aren’t on our team are going to spend eternity. We look for the markers so that we can feel superior about our own stances and dismiss people who are disagreeable to us.

I was doing that here in my first consideration of the passage, thinking about how the Pharisees used the Sabbath, and wondering what contemporary church leaders use in our era. The topic of Hell was recently used as a marker, expressing a theology of works that mandates we have a certain approved opinions on diverse topics approved for us by scholarly leaders. Ah, I might say, people who do that are not on the good team.

I think I’m weary of that game. I catch myself reading Scripture or a blog post or whatever, seeing an example of something that bothers me and saying, there they go again.

But, there I go again. Making it about who is on the right team.

Meanwhile, Jesus healed the blind man.

I think I’m weary about arguing about who is right and who is wrong, even if I’m trying to justify myself or make some mark or add a different, dare I say prophetic, perspective.

I just want to see the blind man healed.

But even writing this has echoes of that passage in 1 Corinthians about one group following Paul, another group Apollos, and some “just followin’ Jesus’.

Judgmentalism is a pernicious bit of spiritual mold, that creeps in even when its being expressly fought.

Right now, it makes me feel like the blind man, wishing I could see past the fog of competing groups and my own attempts to find my own right(eousness).

I think I need some of that mud and spit in my eye.

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