Free from Insincerity {#31 Days}

Imagine the scene with me, if you will. Everyone gathers in the standard way. Clothes neatly pressed. Hair just so. Smiles adjusted. Meet and Greet rehearsed. It’s church day.

The repetition moves a rhythm. One that can be easily learned. With hardly a conscious awareness, the gathering becomes a giant flash mob. Everyone’s moving in unison to the usual, looking hardly distinguished from one another. Sing a little song, nod a little head, say a little prayer, give the right answers, talk to the same people about the same stuff you talked about last week, get in the car and mentally check off “church” from the list of things to be done.

It’s the modern-day picture I superimpose upon the scriptures when I read about the Sabbath celebration in the gospels. Everyone is caught up in a wave of “do it right,” “don’t break the rhythm,” “be like everyone else.”

Naturally, Jesus loves to shake things up. He seems to have an infinity for cutting through the gloss and gleam of the Sabbath veneer. In many ways, he’s a show stopper. Each time I read ‘Jesus’ and ‘Sabbath’ in the same sentence I hear the music awkwardly slowing out of key and coming to an abrupt end.

Take for example the account in John 9. Jesus heals a blind man with mud on the Sabbath {gasp}. The people who witness this miracle take the man to the Pharisees. Wow. What an introduction to sight. Poor guy. I think it’s important to note that the text indicates this man has still not seen Jesus. As you’ll remember, Jesus put mud on his eyes, told him to go wash, and then he received his sight. By then, Jesus was {POOF} gone. So Man Born Blind Now Seeing has his first church experience with the gatekeepers of Israel’s religion {scary}.

I’m not exactly sure why the people brought the man to the Pharisees. I figure it was because the people had so many questions about how and by whom this man received his sight. They recognized it as an act of God–too remarkable for human origin. The people must assume that the leaders of the church will be able to give answers to their questions and they’ll be able to make some sense out of this situation.

As is typical in the gospels, the Pharisees are less interested in what Jesus did right and more intent on finding something that he did wrong. In this situation, he made mud on the Sabbath. Verboten! As is also the case with religious leaders, finding it hard to explain the work of God, they may divert the focus to man. So begins the church tribunal of the Man Born Blind Now Seeing.

The test begins: “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” “Uh, he must be a prophet. I didn’t ask to be healed. He saw me when I couldn’t see. Only prophets see what others miss. Yeah, he is a prophet.”

Wrong answer.

“Get this boy’s parents in here. He probably wasn’t even blind.” “Yep, this was our son and prior to today he has been blind as a bat. And that’s all we’re going to say about the matter. We’re pleading the Fifth and staying out of the matter. Our standing in this here church is important.”

Wrong answer.

They go back to the Man Born Blind Now Seeing. “You agree with us that this man who healed you is a sinner, right?” “Seriously? I don’t know what all the Q & A is about, but I do know one thing: I was blind and now I see.”

Wrong answer.

“Tell us again how you received your sight. If you keep talking we might find some kind of hole in your story by which to discredit this situation so we can all get back to Sabbath.” “I’ve told you everything you need to know. Are you too blind to see that my eyes are healed or is it that you want to become a disciple of this Jesus?”

Definitely wrong answer. And Man Born Blind Now Seeing doesn’t back down. He seems like a smart fellow, so I’m assuming he could have pulled from a number of acceptable answers. But he won’t settle for insincere. He’s spent his whole life hearing about the authority of these men, but now that he can see he has discovered an authority that is higher and more beautiful than any of their rituals or posturing could ever compare. In spirit and truth, this man bears testimony to the power of God in Jesus.

But he’s not approved to preach, and so he’s kicked out. On his bum. Those who don’t play the game right must go. The vote is tallied. Grab your torch, the tribe has spoken.

With the man’s physical sight came spiritual sight that freed him to speak and act with sincerity about Jesus’ work in his life. He didn’t need to play the religious game or need the validation of the ‘leaders.’ He had been touched with Sabbath mud and Living Water. Why would he settle now for the captivity of giving ‘right’ answers in exchange for acceptance and approval? He did not need torches lit by blind men–he had eyes to see and a truth to speak.

There is freedom in sincerity. Church world can lull you into refined stories and casual talk about how Christ has worked in our life. Maybe we feel the need to “sully” up our testimony to make our conversion experience a dramatic listen. Or maybe we clean it up so others won’t be revolted by the person we have been and maybe still struggle not to be.  Or maybe we choose silence, when we are called to speak. We choose the answer everyone wants us to have rather than one Jesus has revealed to us. Maybe we write a blog and leave out potentially controversial realities.

Jesus did not free us from sin only to be taken captive by spin. Jesus wants to free us from the pat answers that our personal and community insecurities feed to us. He’s okay if his work in you rocks the proverbial boat of “that’s not the way we think or do things around here.”

His work in you is a sermon. So preach. Don’t care what others think. {Preaching for applause is a solitary confinement sort of crazy making captivity…but that’s a different post.} You are freed from the go-along, insincere life. Your alliance is with Jesus. He will not vote you off the island.

In all sincerity, be free today. Be free indeed!

This month I’m participating with The Nester in her 31 Days challenge to write every day on a topic of choice. I’m writing this month on how Jesus make us free.

2 thoughts on “Free from Insincerity {#31 Days}

  1. Wow! Thanks for this. I especially liked the thought of the blind not having seen Christ, but having been given a residual, tactile anointing of his encounter with Him.
    “Jesus did not free us from sin only to be taken captive by spin.” Was completely quotable! Well done!

  2. Pingback: Found and Free {#31 Days} | Once Upon a Truth

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