137 You are righteous, Lord,
I grew up in the Brethren assemblies which leads me to the following joke: “If you’re Catholic and you do something bad, you get excommunicated. If you’re Baptist and you do something bad, you get disfellowshipped. But if you’re Brethren and you do something bad, you get DISASSEMBLED!”
Being asked or told to leave a local body of believers ought to be one of the greatest fears of our lives. The church ought to be that important to us! But, alas, some would simply say, “I never liked the color of the new carpet anyway. I’ll just go to the church down the street.” And, sadly, the church down the street probably won’t bother to ask the first church why he was asked to leave.
I wonder what the parents thought right about now? The thing they feared the most has happened to their son. True, he’s got his sight, but he won’t be looking at the inside of God’s house any time soon. He’s being shunned, put under God’s judgment, discarded by the highest religious authorities on earth. (to be continued)
129 Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
130 The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
131 I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
132 Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
133 Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
134 Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may obey your precepts.
135 Make your face shine on your servant
and teach me your decrees.
136 Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed.
Aren’t you glad God listens to “sinners”? The Pharisees were caught on the horns of their own dilemma. They were convinced that Jesus was a “sinner” in the sense that He could not be the Promised Messiah of God. He had violated the Sabbath as well as stood up to God’s religious authorities, the Pharisees.
But they had, standing before them, an honest-to-goodness miracle. A man who had been born blind looking at them. (I wonder what kind of look he was giving them?). They could not explain this miracle away. They couldn’t get the parents to give information that would help them explain this away. And they were growing more and more frustrated by the second.
Then they get a lecture! From the second half of their dilemma. And he is not reluctant to dogmatize! “We know God doesn’t listen to sinners!” “We know He listens to the godly person who does His will!” Lumping himself together with the Pharisees appears to have been the ultimate insult.
And then he dogmatizes further: “Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” Those were the last words he spoke to these Pharisees.
Dogmatism has a way of either convincing the opposing party or inciting them.
And these opponents (who already had smoke coming out of their ears and flames coming out of their eyes from the man born blind’s question “Do you want to become His disciples too?”) had reached the end.
“You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And then they threw him out of the synagogue. Out of the center of Jewish social and religious life. Out into the world. Out into the judgment of God. (to be continued)
121 I have done what is righteous and just;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122 Ensure your servant’s well-being;
do not let the arrogant oppress me.
123 My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
looking for your righteous promise.
124 Deal with your servant according to your love
and teach me your decrees.
125 I am your servant; give me discernment
that I may understand your statutes.
126 It is time for you to act, Lord;
your law is being broken.
127 Because I love your commands
more than gold, more than pure gold,
128 and because I consider all your precepts right,
I hate every wrong path.
From whence do you get your theology? I mean, the things that you really deep-down believe — where do those come from? Your own thinking? What your church or pastor says? Contemporary media or the musings of whatever “intelligentsia” happens to be holding court?
Would you take your theology from a SINNER? Someone that you KNEW was “steeped in sin at birth”? Probably not.
And it’s one thing when someone like that makes statements such as, “I kind of think that . . .” or “I’m coming to just about believe . . .” But what if their dogmatism is downright in your face? What if that steeped-in-sin-under-God’s-judgment person were to make theological declarations to you and framed them by the words “WE know”?
You’d be offended, right? You’re the religious expert and you’re being lectured to by a lifelong, wide-eyed beggar who’s got mud on his face.
But TRUTH has a funny way of not caring who the messenger happens to be. And the more offensive and unlikely the carrier, the more it seems TRUTH relishes the process. And in this situation, the carrier speaks the truth. Mostly. We say “mostly” because the man born blind declares a known fact that might be up for debate. He says, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.”
Actually, God does listen to sinners. That’s the only category of human beings that’s left! And, boy, are we glad He does! (to be continued)