Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
One of my teachers was born blind. He had a complicated relationship with this chapter in the Gospel of John. He loved what Jesus said and did in it and the boldness of the man born blind. He hated how so many Christians read it.
Because he was blind, Christian leaders quoting Old Testament prohibitions tried to deny his calling to become a pastor. It pained him to hear the many hymns and sermons that repeated the “blindness equals sin” metaphor.
I remember the powerful sermon he preached about “the eyes of faith.” He talked about the “lenses” we rely on, instead of trusting God. When he took off his thick, heavy glasses and invited all of us to do the same, I and many others wept. To trust that his blind and uncorrected eyes were truly “eyes of faith” was incredibly moving. God includes and loves our eyes as they are and our “uncorrected” selves!
The metaphor Jesus used here in John is “seeing equals sin.” Jesus praised humbly accepting one’s blindness and warned against what these religious people did: self-righteously claimed to see clearly, as they damned and threw people out.
But Jesus wasn’t out there criticizing anyone. Can you see love in Jesus’ interaction with everyone in this chapter? It can be an act of love to hold others to a higher standard of love...when you do it with love. But this is such an angry age, we don’t have many role models.
Look to Jesus, who would rather be stoned than thrown stones. Ask God to help you trust what you cannot see: Christ in every one and every thing. Ask for wisdom to discern what, here and now, really is love.