John chapter 9 is an interesting contrast between the “know it all” pharisees and an ignorant blind man. The Pharisees had all the degrees behind their names and they had read all the latest books, but they were powerless when it came to figuring out how a blind man had received his sight. In contrast, the blind man has no theological credentials and he got kicked out of the church because he wouldn’t condemn Jesus for healing him.
This passage speaks to me because I am preparing to go to an new church in a new city where I am supposed to come in as the so called “expert.” I have had the privelege of ministering for nineteen years in a wonderful church and it has been my privelege to witness the spiritually blind receive their sight. I have watched people with no background in faith become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. If anybody understands how this works, I should. I have been blessed with one of the greatest theological educations available. I received my bachelors degree in Biblical studies from Wheaton College which is sometimes called the “Harvard” of Christian education. I received my Masters from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary which is one of the largest and finest seminaries in the country. Many of my professors were considered the leaders in their field. To top that off I received my doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary which is the birthplace of the church growth movement. If anybody should know how to grow a church I should. Honestly, however, I don’t have a clue.
Its a little intimidating to go to a new church where the expectations are high. Certainly, they are going to be expecting results. Sadly, I come with few answers. I understand a little about “planting” and “watering”, but I am keenly aware that only God can make it grow. Its no wonder the Apostle Paul who was arguable the most well educated Christian of the first century considered his education as “dung” compared to the greatness of simply knowing Jesus.
I am a great fan of education only if it leads us to complete dependence on Jesus. Oh I know certain techniques that might help increase numbers and offerings, but that’s not what a Jesus church is all about. If the blind aren’t seeing, we are just spinning our wheels. My desire is to see life transformation happen. I must confess that I am concerned about the landscape of Christianity these days. So called experts on tv are filling people’s heads with knowledge that makes little difference. They can explain to you the finer points of the book or revelation in ways that impress the common person watching from their living rooms. One of the phrases I have had to get comfortable with is “I don’t know.” My understanding of how events will unfold in the last days is shady at best. I don’t know how to grow a church. I don’t know how God knows everything before it happens and yet we are still free to choose. Calvinists can explain it all. Many from the “free will” group also have answers for everything. I’m not so sure. I’m just an educated fool.
There is a contrast in these passages between the pharisees who keep saying “we know” and the blind man who doesn’t know. The blind man only know one thing. Once he was blind but now he sees. Is it possible that God can use our ignorance more than our so called knowledge? For the last nineteen years at Christ Community Church its been my privelege to lead people to Jesus and I watched the spiritually blind see and the spiritually lame walk. Pray for me as I go to Knoxville. I don’t know what I’m doing. They will discover that soon enough. They may be looking for answers from me, but all I have to offer is a testimony. Maybe God is not looking so much for our ability, but our availability. Maybe the purpose of all of our education is to lead us to end of ourselves and total dependence on him.