Everyone walking on this planet sees their life through a particular lens. We all have a worldview that influences how we interpret our circumstances and surroundings. Our worldview impacts the way we value other people. Our worldview also influences the way we choose to make use of the time we've been blessed with.
At one time in our lives, we lived in ignorance. We were ignorant of some of the deepest realities that we're surrounded with all the time. It's likely that we lived in ignorance to who we were really created to be. We lived in ignorance about the purpose of our experiences. We lived in ignorance toward the suffering of others. In general, we lived in ignorance to the bigger picture of God's divine plan.
But our gracious Lord is kind enough to offer us the privilege to begin to see things in a new light. Through faith in Jesus Christ, our eyes are opened to things that we didn't have the capacity to gain a full understanding of through natural means. Jesus enables us to see things differently, and as He does so, the manner in which we choose to live our lives can't help but be impacted as well.
What does Christ enable us to see differently? What difference does that make?
1. Jesus has a purpose for your greatest sources of discomfort and trouble
If we're honest, every single one of us most likely has some aspect or feature of our body that we would change if we could. None of us is perfect. We each have limits and differences, and we all have a few scars that probably come with some interesting stories. Likewise, when a child is born, what's the first thing the doctors and nurses do? They examine the child to determine if he or she displays any traits or features that might seem out of the norm.
The man referenced in this passage was born blind. From infancy, it became clear that he didn't have the capacity for natural vision. I'm grateful that our culture has been developing greater empathy toward those with certain impairments, but this world remains a cruel place and in the context and culture this man was growing up in, there weren't many options for the blind. Most often, their only option was to beg in the marketplace and depend on the compassion of strangers to meet their needs.
As Jesus and His disciples were passing by this man, the disciples asked Jesus a question of curiosity. They wanted to know if this man had sinned against God or if his parents had. It was their understanding, just as it is the common belief of many people today, that our sources of discomfort and trouble are tied directly to God punishing us because of some action or moral failure in our lives. But Jesus made it clear that this man's condition was not a form of punishment related to something sinful he or his parents had done.
The truth is that at just the right time, God wanted to do something miraculous in the life of this man that would have great eternal benefit for him and for all who would take to heart the lessons of the miracle Jesus was about to perform. This man's trouble and discomfort were certainly unpleasant in the short term, but beneficial in the long term. Have you ever considered the same to be true in your own life?
One of the reasons many of us enjoy the dawning of a new calendar year is because, psychologically speaking, it grants us a fresh start. We can mentally draw a line with the trials of the previous year and attempt to begin the new year with a clean slate. I can personally testify that that's something I enjoy doing each January. But in the midst of that, let's also take a moment to recognize that there isn't a single trial we will experience, or trouble we will endure, that Christ will waste. Everything that broke your heart, caused you pain, and kept you up at night during the past year, can be used by Him as the set up to something beneficial He wants to teach you, or miraculous He want to show you. He also uses our moments of discomfort to foster holiness in our lives and increase the nature of our reliance on Him.
2. Make the best use of today because it's almost over
When the Lord blessed my wife and I with four children that are close together in age, we always wondered what it was going to be like when they were all teenagers at the same time. Our youngest just turned 12, so we're less than one year away from that reality. With our oldest in college now, we're also becoming highly aware of just how rapidly the day will come when they'll be out and on their own. The time is literally flying by.
If we're honest, that's the nature of life on this earth. Time moves quickly and we don't get back the time that is wasted. Jesus encouraged His disciples to make the best use of the time they had been given. He spoke of using our life on this earth to do the work that God has called and empowered us to do, because there isn't much time life.
Jesus spoke of the time of His earthly ministry as being like the day. He described Himself as the light of the world, but He warned that the night was coming. While He would remain with His followers in spirit, He would be ascending back to Heaven in the near future and would no longer be visible to them like He was then. In the meantime, however, He encouraged them to be faithful to their calling today because it was almost over.
Psalm 90:12 - So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Ephesians 5:16 - Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Romans 13:11 - Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
I believe that the Lord wants us to trust Him with all aspects of our lives while being very intentional about how we spend our days. Many people just sit around and let life happen to them in a reactive, instead of proactive manner. I'm not a big fan of that for many reasons, one of which is I don't typically like the outcome it produces. I always like to ask myself questions like, "In 20 years, what will I wish I did today?" and "In eternity, how will I wish I used my life?"
Forbes recently shared an article titled, "The 25 Biggest Regrets in Life". In it, the contributor, Eric Jackson, shared his opinions on what they might be if he didn't make changes. Here's a few on his list....
- Working so much at the expense of family and relationships.
- Not standing up to bullies in school and in life.
- Worrying too much about what others thought of him.
- Allowing his marriage to break down.
- Failing to take time to teach his children practical things.
- Primarily associating with people who led him in an unhealthy direction.
- Not caring for his health while he had the chance.
Christ reminds us that the day is almost over, but it isn't over yet. In the meantime, we're invited to do the work God has called us to in Christ Jesus.
3. Keep trusting Jesus even if He asks you to do something out of the ordinary
In the culture of the time, Jesus was doing something rather controversial by spitting on the ground, making mud by mixing the saliva and dirt, and spreading it on the blind man's eyes. The biggest area of contention would have been with the religious leaders who would have interpreted this healing miracle as a form of unlawful work because Jesus did this on a Sabbath day. We can see in some of the latter verses in this chapter that this infuriated them.
Everything Jesus does has a point. In this particular case, part of what Jesus was doing was helping to teach this blind man the nature of faith. In a sense, Jesus was testing him. You can typically tell what a person believes by observing the activity of their lives. If this man really did trust Jesus, he would obey the instructions Christ gave him. So, with the kind of obedience that comes from genuine faith, the blind man made his way to the pool of Siloam and washed the mud Jesus had smeared on his eyes off. Then, miraculously, he came back seeing.
What would you have done if you were this man? What would you do presently if Jesus makes a request of you that seems out of the ordinary or beneath your dignity? Would you say yes or would you idolize what you think you can see and reject what He really wants to show you?
4. Jesus will open your eyes to see all things in a new way
There were real consequences for this man who trusted in Christ and obeyed Him. He was excommunicated from the synagogue, but that shame was nothing compared to the joy of knowing and worshipping Christ. This man who had been blind could now see things, not only physically, but on a deeper spiritual level as well. He had come to know His Creator and Savior in a personal and permanent way. He would never see things the same again.
Christ offers us the privilege to see things in a new way, even though we're continually bombarded with messages and influences in this world that try to keep our hearts and minds anchored in lesser things.
Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been enabled to see things differently. We can see our sources of discomfort and trouble in a new way. We can view the time we've been given from a new perspective. We can continue to trust Jesus even if He asks us to do something out of the ordinary, and we can cooperate with Him, instead of trying to resist Him when He stretches us in new ways so that we can adopt His manner of seeing things as our manner of living.
© John Stange, 2018