If You Don't Want To, You Will Find A Way Not To

 

Scripture: John 9:1-41

Grace and peace to you from God, our creator, from Jesus Christ, the Son, our savior, and from the Holy Spirit, our sustainer and guide.

 

Over the years of my ministry, I have spent a seeming gazillion hours with couples in every stage of marriage. Those happy and excited young couples in the earliest stages of planning their life together to those facing tremendous challenges that put their marriage at risk. As I have learned, over the years, there are two basic, fundamental questions that are at the heart of whether they will see their way through their problem and rebuild their marriage. The first question is: Do they both believe they can? And the second is like it: Do they both believe they need to do something different? If they don’t want to, they will find a way not to…

 

If they don’t think they need to do something different, then the fix lies outside of themselves and there is no inspiration to change.

 

If one thinks only the other needs to change, then there is bitterness and blame, and responsibility for the repair is uneven, and the investment in it is unequal.

 

If they both recognize that there is room for growth on all sides, even if there is tremendous fault in one of the members of the relationship, then it is much easier to do the work of forgiveness, rebuilding trust and finding a new future that is good for all.

 

So the recognition of the need to change is KEY!

 

The other question was “Do they think they can?” And it usually gets split up a couple of ways… “Does the one spouse think the other can grow enough to make the marriage worth it?” is the most common question. “Do they think they can work together enough to make it happen (instead of working against each other)?” is harder for most to answer. But the fact of the matter is, if the answer is NO, then they will likely not try very hard.

 

The Pharisees in today’s gospel reading are very much like a dysfunctional couple. They do not approve of Jesus’ actions, do not want to understand what he is up to, they do not think they need to change, or grow, or learn anything new. They firmly believe they are in the right because they have the power. Of course, to them, that means God is blessing them. In a world where sickness and poverty are indications of God’s judgment (hence the disciple’s assumption that SOMEONE had to be at fault) and health, wealth and power are indications of God’s favor, the question the disciples ask is a reasonable one… If a baby is born disfigured, someone is being punished for something. Jesus says, “NO” however. “It isn’t about them.” The way we would say that today is more like “You are asking the wrong question. Blindness is just the way it is for this man. The better question is “Where is God working through him?” Jesus goes on to say “We must work the works of him who sent me  while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Jesus is saying, “It is up to us to display God’s glory through doing God’s work every minute of every day.” Jesus is in the world IN US. So when we are living as Jesus’ taught us, when we are the living breathing baptismal image of Jesus in this world, the light of Christ shines brightly; bright enough for all to see.

 

But the thing is, we need to believe we need it. We need to KNOW it is not our own light that shines. We need to recognize our need for being healed, forgiven, saved. We cannot do it on our own, but we are not to lose heart, because Jesus went to the cross for us.

 

In our society, even within our church, there are too few people who really recognize our NEED for salvation. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard someone say “I think I am a pretty good person.” As justification for not going to church or not going to church regularly. AS IF THAT HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT.  The fact is, even the nicest person in this sanctuary isn’t really all that nice. We ARE Nice: we are nice selfish people. We are nice racists, or classists, or homophobes. We are nice about how we go about gobbling up natural resources wantonly, without regard to the consequences for future generations or people in other countries. We are nice about how we want the lowest prices possible at our stores, even if it means the workers don’t get paid a living wage or get provided health care coverage. We want cheap gas come hell or high water. We want good roads and schools and services, but we don’t want to pay any taxes. We want what we want and we want it right now! That is our society. The fact is, it is nice that you are a good person, but it that’s not what it takes with God.

But the fact is, God already loves us, despite the odds. ITS NOT ABOUT US.

The fact is, Jesus went to the cross for us, KNOWING we wouldn’t deserve it. It isn’t about deserving. It is about God’s overwhelming love for us. Jesus is telling the Pharisees they are sinners because they don’t see their own need for healing.

**The neighbors are stuck in the rut of seeing the man they way they have always seen him. Because no one has ever regained their sight before, how could it be happening now? Their lack of imagination keeps them from seeing the miracle of new sight. The neighbors were stuck on the second question. Do they think they can? They couldn’t believe it was possible that God would work a miracle right there in front of them, so some of them at least, didn’t even try to believe. How that fits for us. We expect things to be the way they have always been, we are blind to God’s work all around us.

The parents are bound by fear and don’t want to risk what might happen next. They weren’t about to risk their standing in the community, to take that leap of faith and they weren’t about to put themselves into it. “ASK HIM, HE IS OF AGE.” Colossal passing the buck. That sounds familiar too…

 

The past Wed question: Who Would Jesus Heal? The scripture passage was from Mark 2, the story of the paralyzed man whose friends carried him to Jesus to be healed, but when they got there the crowd was too thick and they could not get through so they went up to the roof, took it apart and lowered their friend through to where Jesus was teaching. THAT IS DEDICATION. The answer to “Who would Jesus heal?” In this case, it was “Those we care enough about to bring them to Jesus. Those we lift to him in prayer, those we drag to church, all of those whom we invite. In today’s story, the answer to “Whom would Jesus heal?” is “Those Who Know They Need It.” Do you KNOW you need Jesus? Do you act like it? Or do you say yes, but act like the Pharisees; full of confidence in themselves, and far away from God even though they are in the temple every day? Jesus heals those who KNOW they need healing. Jesus SAVES those who KNOW they need his GRACE!

 

Prayer: Help us, Lord, not to be blind to your work in our world. Help us to see clearly what you are calling us to do. We offer ourselves to you humbly, knowing we need you in our lives, Your light, Your salvation, Your love. And not only that, but the world needs YOU, so use us, we pray, to shine your light wherever we go, to see others as you see them, and to trust the vision that you have given us. Hear us as we pray, Amen.