The blind and the seeing
Atheists have a lot of objections to what is claimed about God in the Bible. But as I dialogue with them, it’s often unclear to me whether they believe their objections amount to evidence that he doesn’t exist, or that he is unworthy of worship. And I wonder sometimes if they’ve ever considered that maligning his character and condemning his deeds while disregarding evidence of the miraculous, both in the Bible and in creation, does not go very far in persuading against his existence, only in painting God as one to whom we aught owe no allegiance. But if he exists he is totally sovereign, meaning we owe him allegiance whether we like it, or him, or not.
As I read John Chapter 9 this morning, I saw a lot of similarities there to the spiritual climate of today, in the way God is being judged for what we as finite human beings see as immoral, and his power and goodness ignored in the effort to cast doubt on his existence. So I rewrote it to have it speak of those who deny him today.
Here is John 9 CSV (Caroline Smith Version)
As Jesus passed throughout the world he saw a man spiritually blind from birth. The angels asked him, “Lord, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. He was born a child of Adam, as all are, unable in their own power to see me, but I have provided a way for all to be healed of their blindness. I am the light of the world.”
Having said these things, he revealed to the man’s heart the reality of his blindness and the ugliness of his sin. And Jesus said to him, “Go, wash in the blood of the Lamb.” So he went and washed and came back seeing and praising God.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a lost sinner were saying, “Isn’t this the man who used to ridicule Christians and had nothing good to say about God?” Some said, “That’s him.” Others said, “No, he just looks like him.” But he kept saying, “Yes, I’m the one.”
So they said to him, “How is it that now you’re going to church and reading the Bible?”
He answered, “I finally saw what a mess my life was and I hated it. I was always doing things I knew I shouldn’t…hurting people I loved and hating people who disagreed with me. And when I honestly looked at what I believed, I realized it just left me with more questions than answers. So I took a chance and prayed. I said, ‘God, if you’re real, show yourself to me.’ And now I see.”
But his neighbors took him before the philosophers and scientists and they asked him how it is that he turned his back on reason. “God is real,” the man replied, “and he opened my eyes to see the truth. I submitted to him in faith, and now I can see.”
Some of the philosophers said, “There is no God. If there is, he’s not good, or he’s not all-powerful. If he were, you wouldn’t have been born blind.”
Some of the scientists said, “There is no God. We can’t see or feel him. If he existed he wouldn’t be so mysterious. He would make himself obvious and testable so there would be no doubt. Besides, scientific theories can explain how the universe came into being without him. We don’t need God.”
But others said, “How can the universe exist without a cause? And how does something that exhibits obvious design and intelligence arise from non-intelligence and chance?” So they were divided.
Finally they turned again to the man born blind, “What do you have to say about it? How is it that you are now preaching the faith you once tried to destroy?”
The man replied, “My life was meaningless and filled with sin. I humbled myself and asked God to reveal himself to me, and he did.”
The learned ones still did not believe that he had rejected man’s wisdom for religious faith, until they sent for his parents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you sent to the finest schools to be taught that God is an illusion and religion is a neurosis? How is it that now he believes in God?”
“We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he has rejected the notion of God since he’s been at university. But how he came to believe in God, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the scientists and philosophers, for they had decided that anyone who acknowledged God would be put out of the scientific and societal circles.
A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Don’t be a fool, man,” they said. “We know God is just an imaginary being created by men who don’t want to take care of themselves.”
He replied, “Exactly what you or others think him to be, I don’t know. One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see.”
Then they asked him, “Why do you say that there is a God? What happened to you?”
He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to believe in him too?”
Then they hurled insults at him and said, “We are scholars and scientists who know enough to only believe in what we can see and measure. You are a deluded imbecile believing in fairy tales! As for God, we have no proof that he exists.”
The man answered, “Now, that is remarkable. You have no proof he exists, yet the universe and everything in it exist, and something can’t come from nothing. Without God, none of you would even be here, much less be able to reason him away.”
To this they replied, “You are an uneducated, mindless sheep; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
Jesus saw that the man was cast out, and coming to him said, “Do you believe in God the Son as your Savior and Lord?”
He answered, “And who is he that I may believe in him?
Jesus said to him, “I am he, the one who became a man like you in order to reveal the Father and give my life as a ransom for all who will believe.”
Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
Then the scientists and philosophers ridiculed the man who was blind, saying, “He was blind and now he can see?! It’s the other way around – he used to see and now he is blind. He must think we’re blind if he expects us to believe in such nonsense.”
And Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”