As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind” (John 9:1–2, esv)?
What a thing to ask.
Whose sin is this poor blind guy paying for?
Jesus’ healing provided the eye-opening answer to it. He opted for neither response to their absurdly insensitive multiple-choice question. “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents,” Jesus said, “but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3).
Jesus saw before Him a man who needed to be helped, a living canvas upon which to paint the love, power, compassion, and authority of Almighty God. Yet the disciples saw this same man as nothing other than an issue to debate. Even with the subject of their inquiry standing right there where he could hear them (he was blind, remember, not deaf!), they were painfully close to missing the whole point of what Jesus intended to do in this situation.
They needed to clean their glasses.
One of the reasons we sometimes don’t recognize God at work in our midst is that we allow narrow thinking to block our view of His activity. Instead of staying open to the amazing things He’s always doing around us in people’s lives and in real-time, real-world events, we’re too often focused on other things that we believe to be the “only things.” Reductionism, this is called—reducing everything down to how it squares with our obsession over a few isolated things.
Some Christians, for example, are two-issue people. Start a discussion on either of their hot buttons—whether it’s pro-life advocacy or the defense of traditional marriage; whether it’s being a champion for homeschooling or the plight of the urban poor—and you’ll find out in a second where they stand. They are hyper focused on the people, campaign candidates, and news coverage that speak to their main interests. Not that any of these topics aren’t important considerations. They’re valid areas of concern and investment. But when they’re all a person sees, to the exclusion of other matters where God is working, these glasses become a distorted lens for looking at life.
Or perhaps it’s less political and more personal. For example, instead of trying to understand how an extended family member is hurting, struggling, or subtly crying out for help, all you can see is how selfish they are, how stubborn they’re being. You’re not curious to discover what’s truly underneath their unpleasant words and outward behavior. You’re not patient enough to watch for opportunities where you can listen and communicate and share how God has helped you, too, in dealing with certain problems that once kept you away from Him.
Clean your glasses! Let God open your mind to what He’s doing. Concentrate on people’s hearts more than how they measure up to whatever label you’ve placed on them. Stop drawing ultimate conclusions from the first thing you see. Don’t just observe people objectively from a distance, but get to know them and see what God may be working to accomplish for His glory through your interaction with them.
Do you wish to recognize the work of God today, celebrating, experiencing, and being prayerfully involved in it? Then never be so locked in on a few things that you miss seeing the bigger things. Never be so fired up about being right that you fail to notice where He’s being God.
Lord, how amazing that You continue to work in my life, my family, my church, and everywhere that people need You. Help me to desire nothing more than seeing lives changed forever as Your kingdom claims its rule in people’s hearts. Prevent me from becoming so distracted with other things—even good things—that I miss the opportunity to contribute to what is so much more important. Increase my faith and widen my vision. I pray in the name of Jesus, amen.