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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Vision Thing (24): False Claims

El Greco, Christ Healing the Blind (c. 1570)
God is delighted to give true vision to those who lack it. But he is equally determined to withhold it from those who insist that they have it but do not. Making an empty claim to vision is the worst thing we can do.

John 9 contains a fascinating story about spiritual vision that involves literal, physical vision. Jesus heals a man born blind so that he sees. The Pharisees are trying to figure out how this happened, especially as it happened on the Sabbath when no work was to be done, and what this event indicates about Jesus. As the story develops, the once-blind man increasingly "sees" Jesus to be the One Sent from God while the Pharisees become hostile to the seeing man and strenuously reject his conclusion. "You were born completely in sinfulness," they say, seething. "And yet you presume to teach us?" (v. 34).

Upon meeting up with the once-blind man again, Jesus asserts, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that those who do not see may gain their sight, and the ones who see may become blind" (v. 39). In other words, Jesus came into the world so that those who lack vision could gain it. However, those who claim to have vision Jesus would judge on the basis of their claim. If these people actually lack vision because the vision they claim to have is merely self-invented, then Jesus would punish them by cementing them in their unwitting blindness. Jesus confirms this verdict when Pharisees around him bait him with the question, "We are not blind too, are we?" Jesus' reply: "If you were blind you would not be guilty of sin, but now because you claim that you can see, your guilt remains" (vv. 40-41).

I don't believe that God is pleased if a person has a vision of God and from God and modestly claims not to have one. Imagine what God would have done if one of the prophets had pulled that stunt! But on the other hand, vision is an awesome, precious thing, because it is a faculty of God himself that only he can bestow. If you don't have vision, and you humbly admit it, you're in a good place, because the Son may give it to you. But the false purveyors of vision that have concocted it themselves, copied it from others, or (still worse) mimicked it from the world get blinder all the time the more they claim to see.

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