Last week I helped at the Brown County Fair to screen children’s eyes for problems. Of the 100+ we screened at the Lions Club booth, most of the children had healthy eyes but seven were referred to an eye doctor. One woman told us the story that two years ago her granddaughter had come to our booth and had been screened and referred and the problem in her eyes had been corrected. So she was grateful that we had caught the problem early.
The Bible talks about two kinds of blindness—physical blindness and spiritual blindness. If I had lived in biblical times, I might have been one sitting along the roadside and begging for coins, because my vision is very poor without the help of glasses. I am certainly glad for my glasses and the ability to see clearly.
Spiritual blindness is a condition of not being able (or willing) to see the truth about spiritual matters like sin and grace and what God is up to in our world. People who grow up without faith or church often cannot see things that Christians easily see—the beauty of nature or the magic of childbirth, for example, as signs of a wonderful Creator. Or death aa a gateway to God’s promise of a fuller existence. Or social change as something God might want for our world. Eyes that were always closed to God’s activities are hard to open.
But if we assume that spiritual blindness would be found only outside the life of faith, we will be surprised to learn that Jesus finds more blindness among the religious leaders than the common people. Why? Because the Jewish authorities assumed they knew what God was doing so they refused to hear or see the new spiritual truth standing before them in Jesus—in his words, in his miracles, in his love. Jesus even jokes, as he heals a man born blind (John 9), that it is amazing this man who was blind can clearly “see” what Pharisees with good eyes never can.
So we must open our eyes both to the world and to God’s presence and voice. We must not merely judge the world, but judge ourselves and our church leaders’ beliefs and actions and attitudes against the words of Jesus and the promises of God. We can do so best by discovering and seeking to understand the scripture that teach us to follow. In a sometimes scary world, let us keep our spiritual eyes and ears open to what God wants up to know today. Sometimes it may even surprise us.
Pastor, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church