Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fourth Sunday in Lent

1 Samuel 16:1-13
Psalm 23
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41

         Recently I found myself so busy trying to correct an issue which had arisen that I fixated on one solution. I instantly ran the list of reasons why no other option worked. Eventually, after several days of wearing out the heels of my shoes, I recognized that several options worked and would accomplish what we needed from the program. In today’s Scriptures, we see the Pharisees behaving much the same way. Their fixation with the letter of the law which they had translated into human-based systems blinded them to God’s working around them.

         The Pharisees were the ultimate rule-makers. They had interpretations and guidelines for every law in the Torah. Anyone who did not live exactly according to their standards faced discipline from this leadership body and possible exclusion from the synagogue. Jesus constantly confounded them, (they could not be brought to believe that they were quoting the law to The Word, The One who gave the law) for whenever they challenged him for breaking a rule, he educated them on the law. When Jesus healed a blind man on the Sabbath, he sparked debate and division with the sect as his action put rules in conflict.

He healed on the Sabbath = Sinner! = Not a Man of God.

He healed ≠Sinner! = Man of God.

         The conflict existed because Jesus was not one of them and did not adhere to their restrictions. Since he was not raised among them and openly flouted their legalism, their own “God-given” rules would not let them see God in him – yet he did things (healing) they never imagined they, the Godliest of all men, could do. The even seemed to recognize as much when the formerly-blind sinner challenged them because they refused to listen; they saw his response as “teaching,” and because of his low status drove him out.

         The Pharisees give us the perfect reason for seeking growth and improvement in the Lenten season. Our Christian education may be solid. We may be perfect in following the doctrine of our faith community. The example of the Pharisees shows just how blinding education and doctrine can be – especially when they are a closed system with one supporting the other. I have been confronting the ways my doctrine and theology blind me to the work going on through others in the world. During this season, we have the opportunity to pull back the blinders and see God at work in many unexpected people across the world. They just do it differently than we do. They are not us, but if we are willing to listen, we may learn something new – or at least rejoice at the work of God.