It is not easy to become a Christian! The ninth chapter of John shares a story of a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”. I saw with Vickie that when medicine doesn’t offer hope that you grasp for anything. You would be amazed at the number of odd things offered to cancer patients. And when you have nothing to lose, you have nothing to lose. So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked,”Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” In this story we get a view from two sides. From the man who is healed. And from the people who knew the man before and after. Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” “How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded. He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? The man replied, “He is a prophet.” The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. “Give glory to God, ” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
The listener faces two real choices: Do I take a purely scientific approach and come to the conclusion that the healing was in the mud or the pool? But we have tried everything. We call it proof. The second choice is a spiritual choice, just maybe God changed something. To open ourselves to the possibility that there is a God, means accepting the reality that God can change the course of life. We call it faith.
Ray Stevens sung a song called “Everything Is Beautiful.” The words of the song go, “there is no one so blind as he who will not see….” As Paul writes, …even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. Faith cannot be separated from being a Christian.
All of us struggle with accepting Jesus as Lord. For the Christian, we were able to make the leap of faith. We ask all the right questions. We looked into history and found the story confirmed by non-Christian sources. We looked into the story and found a love and acceptance that we needed and desired. And while proof was there, the step of faith could still not be eliminated. But why are those who look at the facts, understand the story, and still turn away? That is Paul’s struggle with the Jewish people who can’t seem to understand Jesus and accept Him. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. You see many of those who don’t accept Christ say it is because they are intelligent and must have proof. And Paul says their minds are dull. The Jews in the story of the man born blind saw the healing, there is the proof. But it wasn’t what they were looking for. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
We Christians are sometimes intolerant of unbelievers because of their doubt. Do we forget that doubt is also a part of the Christian struggle? Thomas, who lived with Jesus for three years, doubted. It is faith that pulls us away from doubt. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. In other words, where the ability to prove something ends, faith begins.
What is it that keeps someone from faith? Because of the way they see Christians living. Some Christians don’t live like Christians and it is a turn off for an unbeliever. They misunderstand or don’t know God’s word. Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” (Acts 8:30-36) Sometimes the demands of being a Christian are too great. Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” If you want enter life, obey the commandments.” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:16-22) Because faith itself has a cost. ROM 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (NIV)