Thursday, 21 April 2011

I once was blind but now I see!

‘So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ 2 Cor 4:18

‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ Hebrews 12:2

‘Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.’ 1 Peter 1:8

‘To live by faith but not by sight!’ 2 Cor 5:7

To believe what God says is true, to trust in what God has said, regardless of what our circumstances look like. I think it is during the Freedom in Christ course they make the statement that you live what you actually believe not what you say you believe. We can all say quite easily that we believe what God says, believe what it says in the bible and then spend our days living out something that says we don’t actually believe any of it. It is quite shocking to note the gap between what I say I believe and what I actually live out. Each day as we open our eyes we are met with the reality of the world around us and we respond accordingly. The verses above seem to exhort us to not open our eyes to this reality but to focus on the unseen, to focus on the face of Jesus and respond to him. Perhaps if we had some sort of filter over our natural eyes so that we could only see Jesus and beyond that into the world around us, how would we respond to the world around us? What if our focus was Jesus and everything else had to be seen through him first? The reality of our new creation existence is that Jesus is living in our bodies and we have full access into the presence of God, therefore being able to see Jesus is a reality that we can simply believe. The verse in Peter seems to indicate that at least one result of believing in Jesus is inexpressible and glorious joy.

There is an interesting story of Jesus healing the blind man outside the village – he spits in his eyes (nice) and then;

‘He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.’ Mark 8:24-25

I think it is an interesting story as we have used this story when we’ve prayed for people to be healed and there hasn’t been an instant healing and said something like ‘oh well even Jesus had to pray twice for the blind guy.’ It seems right and certainly helps us to understand why some folk don’t get healed first time round but do we really believe that Jesus couldn’t heal the guy with one go? He doesn’t seem to have a problem elsewhere with any of his miracles. But how about we put the story in with these scriptures and perhaps/maybe what Jesus did was he enabled the man to see things in the unseen reality first;

‘They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendour.’ Isaiah 61:3

‘But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’ Jeremiah 17:7-8

‘Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers, But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.’ Psalm 1:1-3

I’ve been pondering a few other good verses relating to blind eyes seeing;

‘The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.’ 2 Corinthians 4:4

I wonder if we just ignore this verse on the basis that it does not apply to us, we have after all seen the light. But what if the god of this age can blind the mind of believers? What if the god of this age and certainly in the Western, very well educated world, is the dependence on the intellect, on our ability to reason, to work things out. Perhaps we insist on understanding something before we will believe it? Not knowing the answers or understand what is going on is seen as somehow unacceptable. Surely just to not know should be ok as understanding a mysterious God can be pretty tricky! Perhaps by relying on our heads rather than the Spirit to understand everything we have missed the point of the gospel? If the Spirit doesn’t reveal what is going on to you then perhaps you don’t need to know and you can just carry on trusting.

The usual rebuttal to suggesting that one may be ‘thinking too much’ is ‘God gave me a brain and I’m going to use it’, interesting in light of the scriptures regarding man’s brain power.

‘For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.’ 1 Cor 1:25

‘So that your faith might be based not on man's wisdom but on the power of God. ... so that your trust might rest not on the wisdom of man but on the power of God’ 1 Cor 2:5

Amazing verses as to where we need to get our wisdom from!! Perhaps as we have seen the light of the gospel and are therefore new creations we need to know where our mind fits in to this mysterious transformation.

‘We have the mind of Christ’ 1 Cor 2:16

‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ Romans 12:2

‘Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.’ Eph4:23 New Living

As we have been made in the likeness of God our intellect, our brain function is amazing, absolutely incredible and absolutely to be fully utilised in all the good things the mind is capable of. I’m certainly not saying that the mind is useless; I’m just not convinced it is to be used as a replacement for simply believing and I am suggesting that part of the new creation reality is to lose our own head and have it replaced by Jesus’s head. The idolisation of our intellect can be a whopper in our churches and can leave some people in our churches feeling insecure in their faith. Some feel that because they don’t understand commentaries, don’t understand theological debates, haven’t been to bible school, can’t read, struggle with thinking altogether that they are somehow inferior to others in the church. They simply believe what it says in the bible. I ‘think’ these people are the ones who should be out front on a Sunday morning telling us their faith stories. I was in a group once where a refuse collector said he believed it because God said it – simple as. What a fantastic testimony. The wonderful gospel creates a level playing field with no favourites and no experts. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, the revealer of all truth and our dependence on him will bring us all the understanding we need. I really don’t have to understand the things of God to believe in Him, I don’t have to understand the cross, the redemption, grace, the fullness of Christ living within me, my co-crucified status; I just have to believe in their reality.

‘We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began…. no mind has conceived …but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.’ 1 Cor 2:7-10

Jesus talked of becoming like children, the foolish shaming the wise and he does seem to have an aversion to those who know the words of scripture very well and understand how to work them to their advantage without understanding God at all. Jesus was surrounded by teachers of the law and yet seems to have spent his time with fishermen, tax collectors and the sick. He refers to the teachers as blind guides and accuses them of squeezing out a gnat whilst swallowing camels. Those Jews who took great pains to avoid offence in very small matters, superstitiously observing the smallest points of the law, in this case the law against eating insects, and carefully straining out the gnat larva from drinks, whilst taking no effort to avoid great sins of hypocrisy, deceit, oppression, and lust.

Here’s my final thought

‘My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.’ Acts 22:11 I wonder whether it was the religious spirit all over Paul that blinded him in the face of Jesus. He is released from it, like scales, when he is prayed for to be filled with the Spirit. I can’t find any other reference to folk going blind when faced either with the glory of God or the risen Christ other than Paul, blindness is often an analogy of spiritual blindness in the bible and spiritual sight comes with being filled with the Holy Spirit. An interesting thought.


  1. Mags this is super brilliant. I've never heard anyone speak about spiritual blindness in relation to the verses you mention here. What a revelation!! Wow!! It reminds me too, of living/thinking from the tree of knowledge vs the tree of life. We have idealized our intellect so much, we have become in many ways spiritually blind. Maybe it's the Joy that helps us to really see..... You're amazing Mags!

  2. Probably why when folk get drunk on alcohol they have blurred vision, tis just a counterfeit of when you are drunk on the Spirit your natural vision is blurred larf.

  3. Mags I really like this. Love the whole revelation on the blind man seeing in the spiritual eeeeeekk!! Gorgeous!