Friday 30 January 2009

Blind leading the blind

Whilst out walking the other day going along the edge of a field filled with a tall crop of corn I noticed a rabbit sitting in the middle of the path. It appeared to be sleeping, so thinking that it had not noticed me because of the tall plants that provided plenty of cover, I crept forward until within a few feet of the rabbit. Suddenly up went its head, it spun round and ran back towards the hedge line. It was then I realised that the rabbit was blind, its eyes were closed! Yet it quickly found the hedge row and turning parallel to the hedge ran towards a burrow only just managing to avoid direct collision with the branches and trunks of the hedging in the process. In its panic the rabbit ran past a burrow, yet somehow quickly sensed it had done so and doubling back with only one quick sniff found the entry and disappeared from sight. The rabbit was blind, yet managed to ‘see’ with its other senses.

Few of us are blind, yet we all have blind spots. The blind spot is formed at the back of the eye, at the point where the optic nerve enters the eye.  Yet we do not notice a ‘hole’ in our vision.  Why? Well, most people tend to assume that what is seen is more or less what the eye views and sends via the optic nerve to the brain. Yet in fact, your brain adds very substantially to the information it receives from the eye. Thus, much of what you see is actually "made up" by the brain. So despite blind spots in the eye, the ‘hole’ is filled in by the brain. Also, be honest, how many times do you see what you want to see and not what is really out there?  I remember as a young child being convinced that what I saw on television was in colour, yet we only had a black and white television set. Have you ever had the experience of looking high and low for something and being unable to find it? Yet when somebody else takes a look they find the article straight away. It is so easy to miss what is right under our nose!

Blind spots and seeing what we want to see have a serious spiritual counterpart. Jesus once said of the Pharisees:

"Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch." Matt 15:14

That equally applies to and really sums up, the realities of world politics in this age. Yet sadly it also may well apply to the household of faith. Spiritual ‘blind spots’ are increasingly allowing worldly ways and philosophies to encroach upon scriptural principles. At the beginning of his ministry Jesus quoted these words:

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind.” Luke 4:18

The light of the Word has shone into our lives illuminating the darkness that once filled our life. Once like the blind rabbit we ran through life not really knowing where we were going, stumbling along over the many pitfalls that lay in our path. Yet we still, yes all of us, be honest even you, have blind spots.

The recovery of sight is not instantaneous and removal of all blind spots may well lie beyond this present age. If a brother or sister is convinced that they have sight and see clearly, then think on these words of the Master:

“"For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind." Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, "Are we blind also?"  Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains. John 9:39-41

These words bring to mind those penned by John, where he says that “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” 1John 1:8. Yet I hear you say, we do admit to sin and seek forgiveness! Yes that is true, but do you openly acknowledge exactly what sin or failing besets you, or is it rather just a general ‘please forgive my sins’ when in prayer?

I guess for all of us personal self examination shows that deep down inside there are some things preferred to be left unsaid. Maybe a little bit like David, who deep down within himself knew that what he did with Bathsheba and subsequently to Uriah was wrong. But it took the prophet Nathan to bring it into the open, ‘Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight?  Only then, having been confronted and no longer able to hide from himself the enormity of what he had done, did David instantly acknowledge his guilt.

Maybe our personal blind spots are not to the same extent, but all sin is disobedience of God’s Word. But we do have a wonderful hope for as John continues:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9

The problem with blind spots though is that we do not see our own! But how easy it is to see very clearly another’s blind spot and judge accordingly. Jesus said:

"Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye and look, a plank is in your own eye?  "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  Matt 7:3-5

That small speck in our brother or sisters eye is so very easy to see and why they can’t see it is a mystery! Yet, if we were to look deeply and honestly within our own heart, maybe that plank in our own eye would become more apparent!

Jesus was well able to heal the blind and the partially sighted. Not just the physically blind, but the spiritually blind. Though we now as Paul wrote see as in a mirror dimly, the Word will lead, guide and teach us to use all our spiritual ‘senses’, those fruits of the spirit that Yahweh so desires to see in His children.

Now, what of that speck in your brother’s eye? Well we read in the Law of Moses: ‘You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the LORD” Leviticus 19:14. Therefore, let us apply this to spiritual matters and beware of putting a stumbling block in front of our brother or sister in Christ. Again some pertinent words of Jesus:

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42 

The warning to the Laodicean church is particularly relevant to our day, "because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ ––and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” Rev 3:16-17. Particularly in the western world, this modern age provides many comforts and riches; our physical needs are well met. Within the Truth we have many books covering a vast variety of subjects about the Truth and we have a rich heritage spanning 150yrs or so of time since the days of the pioneering brethren. Yet how much time is spent not just reading, but deeply meditating about the scriptures. Is complacency setting in? Is vision dimming and no longer present? Is the vital spark of zeal to uphold the Truth in all its beauty and fight against the steady encroachment of compromise still present? Jesus warned the Laodiceans:

“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” Revelation 3:18

The purchase price of that eye salve is nothing, it is freely offered and today is the time to buy it. But though sin does so easily entangle and blind spots lead astray, we can take great comfort and have trust in the great mercy of Yahweh. For the promise is certain that if we honestly confess our sins, He is willing to forgive. If we repent and turn aside from sin, He is willing to count faith as righteousness.  Though we see but dimly now, we shall see face to face and reflect the glory of Yahweh.  Though we now know in part, then we shall know just as we also are known. Surely the righteous long to receive their full sight and lose those blind spots. Surely the righteous proclaim with Paul:

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”

Andy P.
2013 update:
Christ and The Pharisees
Christ and The Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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