Monday, August 16, 2010

Seeing Blind

Righteousness that is based on God's promises is sure. Period.

Sometimes we think that righteousness is something we must produce, or conjure, or work out, etc. But if we look to scripture this way of thinking is condemned over and over again. Righteousness, as I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, is solely based on our position before God.

I was reminded of this again while I was reading in Matthew. In Mt. 13 Jesus quotes Isaiah to his disciples to explain why he talks in parables: "(that they) will indeed hear but never understand, and (they) will indeed see but never perceive..." That sounds cryptic enough, especially as an explanation. The disciples must have been thinking, "Thanks a lot Jesus, that clears everything up!"

But to make it all a little more confusing Jesus goes on to say, "but blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." How can he say this? The disciples in no way understand the parables. They remind me more of groupies, blindly following around their rock-star and heckling for autographs, rather than people who understand the one they follow. Or more accurately they remind me of sheep. Hmm...

And that's just it. They are the sheep. Their righteousness is not based on their understanding. They are far from understanding. But for these "blessed" disciples, the understanding sits right in their midst. Jesus in his personhood is a gift of righteous understanding, not a cognitive ascent to a truth. What I mean is that Jesus by simply being with and choosing these guys, knew not only that they would one day understand but stood up on their behalf in actuality as their understanding and righteousness.

Why do I believe this? Because it's really obvious. They have no clue what Jesus is talking about! He has to explain the parables to them and even then we have no follow-up questions like: "Jesus can you explain in more detail, because this kingdom of God stuff makes my head hurt, and I know you want us to get it?"

That's what I'd be asking. If I truly knew who Jesus was, as the disciples didn't (they were blessedly naive), I'd be asking him this and that, taking notes and making sure I got everything just right to make sure I was in and not out, open to and understanding God's word and not hard and deaf.

Jesus knew all this. He knew man's tendency to make understanding into a form of possession. And Jesus refused to be possessed. He was simply at peace with his disciples cluelessness. Why? Because he was with them. He was the answer to their questions. And they'd get their answers.

But more importantly, Jesus could confidently assert that they were already "blessed" based on his presence with them. His choosing was everything. Jesus knew that with him they had righteousness and would slowly begin to understand. Jesus knew that without him the situation was hopeless. This dynamic is reflected in all the gospel accounts, and particularly in Mark, where the disciples ask some of the most audacious and stupid questions ever.

So why am I rambling on about all this. I believe Jesus is teaching us something through the disciples ignorance and his proclamation of them as "blessed." He wants the reader to recognize that Jesus, in the flesh, is our righteousness, and our understanding.

Also, Jesus is showing that he is perfectly happy to call blind and deaf followers as seeing and hearing. He's perfectly happy to lead you and me. So often we think that we've got to understand this and that about Jesus in order to grow, mature or even claim our identity as followers. But if Mt. 13 has anything to say about this, it's stating that righteousness, blessedness and perfect standing before God has nothing to do with our understanding and everything to do with Christ's presence in our lives.

Are you uncomfortable in your sanctification? Look to the Lord of your sanctification. Do you feel you have to understand your salvation, and hold true orthodoxy in your mind in order to be saved? No, this is simply unbiblical. Jesus is our salvation, our orthodoxy, and even claims to be our new mind.

I need to hear this truth over and over again. Because I hate being in tension. I can't stand this "now, but not yet" stuff. It doesn't fit in my paradigm. And that's just the point: the radical love of God revealed in the very personal work of Jesus nakedly shows our ignorance and highlights God's grace.

This should impact our evangelism and teaching. Our focus should move from intellectual comprehension and understanding to prayer and dependence. After all, we can spout off the truth about Jesus, and people can even believe us, but if they don't receive Jesus through the Spirit they've got nothing.

The same goes for us every day. Unless we have Jesus we have nothing. But since we do have Jesus we have everything! And we can rest and allow him to explain himself to us and in-so-doing sanctify us. If you're like me you're tired of the self-salvation project anyway, and this is really good news. Good news for a tired and blind soul.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

....and a dummy like me :-) Thanks for the reflection - it is really helpful.