Suggested Reading: I Timothy 1:12-17
As they passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, 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.—John 9:1-3
It is our Christian duty to be Christ conscious and not sin conscious. The disciples asked Jesus who was at fault concerning the man’s blindness. Jesus was very quick to set them straight, enlighten them and broaden their thinking. After all, not too far in the future they would be the ones going out into the villages and towns, encountering the sick and broken, and doing works of healing in the name of Jesus, representing Jesus and continuing his ministry, and they needed to have a right perspective and approach. So he explained to them this man’s blindness had nothing to do with sin. It was not his fault nor his parents fault that he had been born blind.
Inquiring minds want to know and the human mind, and that includes the reborn believer’s mind has an insatiable appetite to investigate who is to blame for the wrong or sin being done. Who is to blame for the addictions people suffer? Who is to blame for someone’s misery? Who is to blame for the things people suffer? Whose fault is that sickness or disease?
Yes, we can trace all things gone wrong, all failure, all earthly sickness, all mental disease, all bad behavior back to one source: the serpent in the garden. The genesis and root of all sin and darkness goes back to that one critical moment in history when the serpent deceived Eve and she was disobedient to what God had said and she ate then invited Adam to eat also. It is the genesis and root, but we are also beyond that as well. Now we are born into sin, born into and inherit a fallen world, earth, and environment. Once Eve and then Adam took from that tree of Good and Evil, nothing would ever be the same, nothing would ever again be pure, nothing would be whole or without some kind of underlying spiritual dis-ease.
Though his students were understanding the impact sin was and had had on all of creation, Christ assured his disciples that not all sickness was result of sin and their greater concern and focus was for the person that needed to be set free or healed. If sin is a factor god will do the rest.
I really hurt for people who belong to Christian and faith communities where, when things go wrong in their life the first thing they are told or asked is, “What did you do? What sin have you committed for this to happen in your life? Where did you fail? You must be walking or living outside of God’s will for this to happen to you or in your life!” People know when they have messed up, they know when their behavior has contributed to their condition, they know when they are suffering the consequences of actions, but as God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah writes “No longer will anyone need to tell you, for you will know (Jer. 31)
Hurting, scared, even failing people, messed up people need grace and comfort, not berating and accusing. I will say it again it is our Christian duty to be Christ conscious, grace conscious and not sin conscious. If there is fault God will detect it and deal with it, our duty stops at recognizing the hurt or pain and applying the soothing, sweet balm of the Gospel and that’s as far as it goes.
When Jobs friends sat with him, initially their intent had been to comfort him in his great losses and pain and they ended up accusing him, poking around in the ashes of his shattered life and looking for blame. The longer they sat with him they could not just keep silent but became certain everything had happened to him for a reason and took on the task of finding it out and pointing it out. In the end God let them know how wrong they were and that they did not really know him as well as they thought they did.
Even God, the Perfect, Almighty, Pure, Righteous, Holy One looks beyond our fault and sees our need for restoration. A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out! (Isa 42:3) His intent is not to break us more or smother what life we have left, out of us, but to help us stand up straight again, help us breath without the fear of being condemned, help us witness to a broken, people the ability and willingness of our God to heal and restore. The Holy Spirit is gentle with his sin detecting. His sin radar does not come to stab or burn us up but gently nudge us and to that realization of what we have done or are in our core.
When God sent the prophet Nathan to David it was through a simple metaphor story that he brought David to his knees and the realization of the great sin he had committed. He knew this would be enough to make David’s heart contrite. The human inclination is to look for the sin to make the sinner come to his or her knees and does not mind breaking or wounding further, but the heart of God sees and detects the sin, then makes us aware, not to break us further but that we might be rebuilt and reborn in his image just as the clay in the potters hands became marred; yet was refashioned into a beautiful vessel.
The Lord is sending us into a broken, hurting sick world. There is much to be done in his name. before we begin we can stop and ask him where to start? We can remember our Christian duty to bring healing to the sick, to restore the hurting, to reclaim the lost and captive, and especially to be Christ conscious and not sin conscious. Let’s Pray,
Dear God, what a beautiful lesson Jesus taught his eager students about ministering to the needs of others. With such love he reminded them it was not the sin that mattered, not the underlying cause of the condition that needed their attention, but the person suffering. Help us to have that spirit of compassion and administer grace and love and be an instrument of healing not accusation. Thank you for taking the responsibility of sin-detection from us and putting it where it needs to be: in your realm. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen