One of the readings for this week of Lent is the story from John 9 about the man born blind. Jesus spits in some mud and proceeds to rub the mess on the man’s eyes. Then the man washes it off in a pool of water. His sight is restored! The Pharisees are unhappy about this work as it furthers the fame of Jesus and they call the man in for questioning. When the man describes the work of Jesus and gives his credit as a prophet, the Pharisees get even more agitated. They refuse to believe that this man was born blind and so they call in his parents. The parents give this testimony:
His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, but we don’t know what happened to make him see, or who did it. He is old enough to speak for himself. Ask him.” John 9:20-21
What an odd response! Ok sure, the man was grown and yes, could give testimony for himself but why aren’t they dancing in the streets that their son, who has been blind for all of his life, can now see? John goes on to tell us…
They said this in fear of the Jewish leaders who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be excommunicated. John 9:22-23.
Community is a powerful force in the lives of human beings. The force of community can be used for good or for evil. These parents were afraid of losing their community…not just faith community but their cultural community, as well. The very threads that held their lives together were the threads of community. Who would they be without them? You and I can’t possibly understand all of the ramifications of this in our society where we have layers of community in place that operate separately from each other. But for these people, their very ability to live- survive -depended on community. Their ability to make a living, to offer sacrifices, to eat according to the law, to practice Sabbath…all community.
The Pharisees forced them to choose between truth and community. They couldn’t have both and so they picked the safety of community. While the stakes aren’t as high for me, I still understand the choice they made.
I have chosen community over truth. I have chosen safety before risk. I have chosen to ignore the depths of who I know God to be in order to stay within the comfort of those who I know best.
What about you?
Do you exist in community that acknowledges and affirms your journey toward God?
Do you live out that truth?
What would it cost to begin?