5) Assuming that you agree that we are quite susceptible to blindness, how did we become blind in the first place and what perpetuates blindness?
I think the answer to that is quite simple. Like the Corinthians, we become blind when we depart from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And for us, that departure from the gospel occurs when we depart from THIS BOOK. The Word of God. Do you align your life with everything that God commands in Scripture? Not selectively picking and choosing what feels good or what seems intuitive.
In general, I think we trust ourselves way too much. We have to be careful if our Christian lives seem too easy. What do I mean by that? Because we are prone to blindness, we will be drawn to Scripture that comes naturally to us or confirms the direction we want to go. We like hearing that God loves me and He has a plan for my life. I love myself and I want a plan, somebody give me a blueprint for my life. How great it is that God wants what is best for me. And I think the best thing for my life is to do A, B, and C and I am sure God will open the doors for me to do those things because after all, he loves me and has a plan for my life.
It is true, God does love you and me. But the definition of what I think is best for me may not match what God thinks is best for my life. For example, one thing God wants for every believer is a repentant heart. Repentance. That’s not a popular word. But God’s best involves our repentance. What about God’s holiness and His wrath and His judgment and His intolerance for sin? Those are not popular topics. But God wants to make us holy and blameless in this life so that we can be presented as perfect in Christ and reach our final salvation. And to become such a person, we will have to undergo trials and difficulties in this life. What about the cross? What about denying yourself and dying to yourself and taking up your cross? That doesn’t sound too appealing, does it? God’s best must include an element of cross bearing. What about the verse that says, we will be persecuted in this life by those who mock Christians because we take God too seriously? What about the invitation to share in Christ’s suffering for the sake of others? That doesn’t sound too comfortable.
But God’s best will include all of these things. He is more interested in our holiness than our happiness. So God best for our lives might not make us feel great about ourselves and we might not feel all too excited about the way our lives are turning out. But our happiness is not the point. God is interested in our holiness, in final salvation.
Do you trust that God knows what is best for your life? And do you admit that you and I are quite biased in what we think is God’s best for our lives? We are drawn to what feels natural, things that match our personality, and if we are not careful, we are just fitting God into our back pocket and using him like a good luck charm to bless whatever we want to do.
Don’t trust your intuition, don’t trust your emotions–God spoke to me this morning and I shed a tear and I think he really wants me to do this. Trust the Word of God. Not part of it, but all of it.
For us, given the makeup of this congregation, we need balance. We prefer passages such as do all things for the glory of God, serve your earthly master as if you are doing it unto the Lord. If those are the only passages you wrestle with, then there is a great probability that you could be blind. Those kind of passages need to be balanced with passages about the radical nature of being a disciple of Christ. Salvation is equivalent to finding treasure in a field and selling everything so that you can buy that field and have that treasure. For us, we need to pay close attention to passages like the rich young ruler. He had wealth, he had power and he was young. On top of that, he was a very moral person. But Jesus exposes his blindness. You say you want to inherit eternal life, you say you want to follow me, but I see your heart.
Listen to what Jesus says to the rich young ruler in Luke 18 —
Luke 18 – 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
To avoid blindness, we have to know all of Scripture. And we have to wrestle with all of it, not just what feels right or easy or comfortable. For us, consider all that is going for us, I would pay special attention to those passages like Luke 18 that are much more difficult to obey.
As a church, I am convinced that if we say we serve only a particular niche, then it’s going to be hard to obey all of Scripture, and therefore, we will have blind spots. If we say, corporately, that our calling is college ministry or whatever, then any verses that talk about caring for the poor or the widows or any kind of ministry outside of our main ministry is going to fall on deaf ears. This is how focusing on a particular niche can lead to spiritual blindness. Because what if there is a need, but we don’t see it because that’s not our calling or that’s not our ministry. If we dismiss any verses, then we’re not submitting ourselves to the whole of Scripture. I don’t want to limit God in any way and I know this openness could mean that God will lead us in some unexpected and uncomfortable directions as a church. But I welcome it because I want us to learn to submit to everything God commands in this book.
6) What is the remedy for spiritual blindness?
I have a few suggestions.
Be humble and admit your tendency to become blind. Especially for those who have been Christian for a while. This is an important first step in avoiding blindness. Unfortunately, this is a step that we often forget the more we think we got the hang of the Christian life. The young Christians are prone to blindness, but not me. All of us, young and old, we need to be humble.
Submit to the whole of Scripture and pay attention to your life. Does your life match what it says in Scripture? Are you doing everything commanded by God?
As a church, we need to ensure that our theology and practice match. We need to be deliberate about implementing practices that reinforce our theology. For example, the Lord’s Supper. That has to be something much more prominent and regular in our worship services. We need to partake in the Lord’s Supper because it is a reenactment of the gospel. It reminds us visibly what Christ did for us on the cross.
Another example is discipleship. The Great Commission. Go and make disciples of all the nations. The things we do as a church, does it encourage discipleship? Does it encouraging our members going out and interacting with the world? It doesn’t make sense to do things just because they are part of our church tradition. We need to be willing to turn over every stone. And if our practice does not reinforce important theological points such as the gospel and discipleship, then we need to be willing to abandon and start over.
As a church, we need to be open to outside voices of truth. Paul was the founder of this church, but he moved on, and therefore, became an outside voice who spoke truth into the Corinthian community. Why do we need this? Because blindness begets more blindness. Leaders, we like to surround ourselves with like-minded people. It happens in companies. If you disagree with me, you’re fired. And it happens at churches, too. Outside voices, having godly men and women from other churches speaking the truth to us is very important.
Lastly, commit yourself to a local church. Next week, we will look at this passage again and discuss church discipline, which is really the other side of the coin of church membership, and we want to study why church discipline is necessary.