I John 2:9-11 (NLT) If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.
If faith shows the reality of what is hoped for and it is the evidence or substance of things that remain unseen, then how does one every overcome spiritual blindness? I wonder if rather than simply reciting God’s Word people began to really think about it what might happen. I believe that our inability to integrate our spiritual and natural life puts people at a huge disadvantage. Living a “church” life and a normal life are mutually exclusive rather than completely inclusive. If faith is evidence of what we hope for and that which is hoped for remains unseen – how do we overcome spiritual blindness? Lost in thought today about the things that I continue to hope for including the things I know the Lord has promised to do in the “land of the living” with nothing in sight. I cannot see how His Plan and Purpose are coming together so I must decide each day if I will trust and continue to believe that God is good and in complete control of the details of my life.
Acts 17:22-28 (NLT) So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”
How ironic that Saul now Paul would be the one to so eloquently describe the Lord. The one who tortured and murdered countless Christians. He was a Jew and Child of God but did not recognize the Messiah. It was on the road to Damascus when a bright light surrounded him, overtaking him and even blinding him that he realized his mistake. (Acts 22:6-16) The Law of God demanded a life for a life. If God was who Saul thought he was, then he would have surely died that day in the Presence of the Living God. He did not die but was taken captive by unfailing love and overwhelming grace. Everything changed that day because Saul experienced the Love of God firsthand. However, he could not see God but rather was blinded for three days. Three dark days of being led by others. His whole life the only images portrayed in his mind. I can only imagine how he must have felt knowing the countless innocent people whose lives ended at his order. Everything Saul knew about God changed that day. Everything. The Word of God did not change but the Way of God turned Saul into Paul and the one of the greatest ministries of all time was birthed in the foreboding darkness of blindness.
What if the Lord is leading us into darkness to recognize the Light of His Love today? What if nothing makes sense to turn us back to the Word of God and seek the Way? What if life is pressing you to release the promise and purpose hidden inside of you? See I believe that when Jesus began healing blinded eyes it was not a natural change but a change of heart that He was after. The words of the prophet Isaiah read by Jesus that day rang true, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor…” Stopping here for just a moment, if the Spirit of the Lord lives inside of us, the purpose is anointing. You have been entrusted with the Good News that has a specific purpose which is to release captives, cause the blind to see, and the oppressed to be set free. The Favor of the Lord is for everyone. It is a product of God’s Love and Grace. Now that we are pumped up let’s get practical…
What if the healing does not come? What if the blinded eye does not see? What if the captive is not set free from their addiction or situation? What if the one who is oppressed remains in such conditions? What then? Is the Gospel invalid? Is it not true? Has God relinquished His Power? Has the enemy one? Am I the one who is overcome? Is God limited by my sin? Powerless in my rebellion? No, no, and no. What if all of this is with divine purpose? What if all of these situations are not physical possibilities but experiences designed for a change of heart? Here is what I am beginning to believe – the healing is in the heart change not the condition. Signs, wonders and miracles are awesome. I have experienced them firsthand. However, once the moment is over it becomes a memory memorialized in my testimony. What about the Living God? The One who lives in me. The one in who I am supposed to “live and move and exist” as His Offspring. Is He still good and still God in the waiting?
God miraculously healed our youngest daughter of severe and debilitating asthma. Not over the course of time or with medical intervention. He did it instantly. Here today gone tomorrow. Doctors scratching their heads wondering how in the world she required six medications and nebulization ever couple of hours to needing nothing at all the next. Crazy, huh? God did it just that way. Fast forward, our son is diagnosed with cancer. God gave me His Word that our son would live and not die so naturally I expected an immediate healing miraculously or medically. He relapsed four times. His bone marrow transplanted was denied by insurance. We had to fight for six long months. Ultimately – they said no. The next day – someone said, “Yes!” Nobody knows who did it or why or even how but we went with it and our son is alive today. However, his body continues to battle terrible side effects of five rounds of chemotherapy, maximum dose radiation, and the transplant. Where is God? Isn’t healing supposed to take care of all that? When will life be normal again? In this moment, I know that God is good. His Love is real. He is always faithful. Knowing is the sight that carries through the darkest days of life. The Light of God’s Love is His Favor that surrounds us in every situation even when the outcome doesn’t seem favorable to us. Faith must become our logic by which we see everyday life until the Saul in us sees life like Paul.
2 Peter 1:8-11 (NLT) The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In the passage right before this one (2 Peter 1:5) the Word of God tells us to “make every effort to respond to God’s Promises”. It goes on to talk about supplementing our faith with moral excellence and moral excellence with knowledge and knowledge with self-control and self-control with patient endurance and finally endurance with godliness so that in all things we demonstrate brotherly affection for everyone. “The more you grow like this…the more productive and useful you will be…” Failure to do so may result in shortsightedness or spiritual blindness. I believe with all of my heart that unwillingness to respond to God’s Promises with faith but maybe routine or service instead has created spiritual blindness in the Body of Christ. Faith is evidence that we have hope that cannot be seen. However, like Saul, the idea of rightness overtakes God’s Concept of righteousness which is obtained fully in the Person of Jesus Christ. This is the blindness that I believe Jesus came to heal. The blindness of a heart overtaken by fear and insecurity that is barely holding on to hope.
In John 5, Jesus encounters the man sitting by the pool of Bethesda. The porches were covered with sick people. Blind, lame and paralyzed all around him. One of the men had been sick for 38 years. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” His response, “I can’t sir, for I have no one to put me in the water…” Hmmm. Do you want to get well? I guess it depends on your idea of wellness. Jesus ignored his excuse and told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat and walk!” The man was given a choice in that moment. Faith got up, picked up the mat and walked off that day. What about you? When Jesus passes by do you see Him, hear Him, feel Him or know Him? This man had a choice in that moment of infirmity and doubt to respond to the Word of God or remain in his current condition. The opportunity did not come when the water was stirring, people were moving, or church was hopping but in the Presence of the Lord. Could it be that our idea of salvation, healing and deliverance has caused us to turn a blind eye to the Light of His Love right before us?
John 9:2-5 (NLT) “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
God’s Light and His Love shine brightest through broken hearts and people. When we decide to give our heart to Jesus and let Him keep it – the Light of His Love will shine forth from it. Sin is rampant. Love is cold. This world is a dark place. The Light of the World lives in us. When we stop looking for why, the shame, regret and accusations are silenced and God’s Grace abounds in us and for others. What if the revival God is announcing is not about signs, miracles and wonders that produce it but hearts and minds set on finding the Light of His Love in every situation and giving it to every person. We are so set on perfect lives and certain expectations that cause us to turn a blind eye to God’s Will which is always to produce His Glory in our life while working things together for our good.
2 Corinthians 4:4-5 (NLT) Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in everything we think God hasn’t done and lose sight of all that He has done. Just the fact that I have a place in His Kingdom is enough to rejoice every day. It is not my job to have a perfect life or preferential outcomes in every situation. God did not promise a life free of problems or pressure. He promised to save, heal, deliver, provide, and prosper my life and asks only one thing of me – to love. To share this unconditional and unfailing love for Him with others. What if the miracle of revival is not birthed from God moving the water but moving our hearts? What if the Presence of God is before us but we keep looking for someone else to carry us in? What if the greatest revival of all time is waiting for us to love God wholeheartedly and people the same? Even Saul tried wholeheartedly to serve God and failed epically, that is until the Light of God’s Love surrounded him and overtook him in that moment when he became Paul. The rest of Paul’s natural life was spent for the most part in prison. He didn’t write like someone in captivity, blind or oppressed. His heart was finally free and filled with Jesus Christ. His faith no longer based on sight but full focused on faith. Lord, let that be me today.
Philippians 3:6-9 (NLT) I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.