Friday, April 4, 2008

The Blind, the Deaf, & the Shushers

Sometimes Christian leaders have bemoaned the fact that "Church people are the biggest obstacle to reaching people for Christ". People who are far more spiritual, others who are far more cool, far more avante guarde (and better spellers) than me have said it, long before I understood it myself, and I tend to agree with them. But I thought it was a recent problem for the church, or at least something that had only recently become prevalent, even if it had been around for hundreds of years. At any rate, I never realized that it was a problem that went all the way back to the very first followers of Christ.

In Luke 18, Jesus--with a crowd in tow--is passing by a blind man begging by the roadside. The blind man, realizing there is a large crowd going by, asks someone to tell him what all the hubbub is about. "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by" they tell him, to which he promptly responds not by begging for the crowd's charity in hopes of a windfall by volume, but by ignoring the crowd altogether and crying out for Jesus to "have mercy" on him. It's at this point in the passage that you read something startling. It wouldn't surprise me today, but it did surprise me somewhat for those walking in the actual physical footsteps of Jesus. Luke 18:39 says this: "Those who led the way were sternly telling him (the blind man) to be quiet..."

Fortunately, the man had the sense to not be deterred, and he kept screaming for Jesus, realizing that He was passing by and this was his big chance. When He heard him, Jesus showed a great deal more interest in the blind man than did His lead followers. In fact Jesus had these lead followers bring the blind man to Him for a face to face meeting and ultimately he gave the blind man what he asked for, his sight. The man got to "see" Jesus, no thanks to those following Him.

Now to be fair, this is before the cross, the resurrection, and pentecost, so the disciples were not yet filled with the Holy Spirit. That's an important distinction between those followers of Christ and Christians from today--or at least it's supposed to be a distinction. We've all met Christians who made us wonder...we've probably been Christians who made others wonder, for that matter.

But isn't it amazing that it was "those who led the way" in the crowd following Jesus who "sternly" discouraged the blind man from bothering Him. Isn't it tragic. Isn't it especially tragic that we have the full accounts of all that Jesus modelled, we have the full accounts of all the disciples' mistakes, we have the Holy Spirit living in us to guide us, and yet 2000 years later, "those leading the way" in the crowd following Jesus are still the leading discouragers of people getting close up and personal to Him.

Like them, we get so preoccupied in getting Jesus to meet our needs, or in our hurried attempts at following Jesus, that we stop listening or even wanting to hear the cries of blind men by the road. We forget what it was like to need him and not be able to find our way to him. We forget that Jesus stopped to listen when every one else behind him was only interested in stopping the man from crying out. I imagine some folks even dropped some change in the blind beggar's bag saying, "Here's some money for you, now shhhhh." Blind men are crying out...many of us have become deaf...many of us are trying to make them mute rather than listen.

I think I heard something,


Susanne said...

This is an awesome post, Brian!

God has been rocking my world in this area over the last several months.

Just wanted to say "hello". Hope you and Lisa and the kids are all well.


Susanne said...

Oops! I am SO SORRY...I just realized I misspelled your name. I hate it when people do that to me, so ...Please forgive me BRYAN??? ;-)