(part 3 of a mini series on John 9)
The movie Philomena has raised again the inhumane way that pregnant unmarried women were treated in Ireland in the first two thirds of the twentieth century. I have spoken and written often about the director of the similar movie Magdalene Laundries saying that a nun had told him that the reason for the treatment was “an absence of doubt.” An absence of doubt is a dangerous thing.
Back to this mini-series of blogs on John chapter 9 and we find that the religious leaders had an absence of doubt. They knew so much that they were denying that a blind beggar had been healed. The religious leaders’ arrogance actually closed out their potential to see the light of God. Jewish songwriter Leonard Cohen throws some insight into this with his often quoted words from his song Anthem:
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.”
Cohen recognizes that none of us have a perfect offering much as St. Paul reminded us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That it is the crack that lets in the light suggests that confession is not only an honest sign of repentance towards forgiveness from past sins but also the secret ingredient to spiritual growth in the future. As John wrote in his letter, “8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” It would seem that the admission of the crack is where the light gets in.
A friend of mine, Derek Hall, made a comment, today in Starbucks, that I quickly noted down. He said, “There is no learning, we have got to be right first.” I think Derek has nailed succinctly a cultural failing in Northern Irish evangelicalism; the moment you pray the sinners prayer and believe yourself born again there is a false assumption that you have arrived. It is as if a bundle of creed is slipped into your life like a piece of software and there is nothing else to learn, no more changes to make. You have arrived. That is all that was wrong with the Pharisees. John reveals a different story in the life of the blind beggar. The blind man goes on a journey, not an arrival and Jesus isn’t even quick to give him all the answers.
Can I take us once again back to Leonard Cohen’s Anthem:
“You can add up the parts
But you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
There is no drum
Every heart, every heart
To love will come
But like a refugee.”
Again it is those who are aware of the cracks in their lives and that they have no perfect offering to bring who come as Cohen says like refugees. The religious, rich and powerful never seem to be able to understand, accept or receive the light or love of Jesus. The blind beggars, the prostitutes and lepers are always quick to respond.