1As he was going along he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2His disciples asked, â€œRabbi, who sinned? Was it this man or his parents to make him be born blind?â€ — John 9:1-2
(This is Henry again, in case you can’t tell!)
I read a remark today in one of many articles I glanced through, though I can’t remember where it was. The writer noted that we tend to debate most issues at the moral level, but not to live them out at the practical level. The disciples in our text today provide a prime example. Here’s a blind man, and to them he’s a theological question!
This can happen in several ways. Sometimes we debate what we ought to do and then forget to actually do it. For example, we might discuss the persecution of Christians right now in Orissa state in India, determine that someone ought to do something, but then we go on and forget even to pray. Right now I’m not sure what specific can be done. While I find that the British Methodist Church has called for prayer for these Christians, for example, I see no action by the national United Methodist agencies such as UMCOR.
There are so many issues like this, such as spiritual gifts and empowering our church members to leadership. It’s easy to sit around and discuss it, note what should happen, and then go on feeling pretty good about ourselves because we’re on the side of the angels. But it may be more that we’re on the angels’ sideline, or even in the stands.
As someone who is definitely a spectator and sports events and never a player, except for a few disastrous occasions, I can tell you there’s a big difference between being in the stands and on the field. Last season, as the Pensacola Pelicans had various difficulties during games, the fans always had a solution. They could make their team a winnerâ€”just follow their advice.
Never mind that their solutions were often dreadfully wrong, based on a perception of plays that was passed down a row of people who weren’t actually watching the game. Those fans had baseball down to a science. If the coaches and players would just listen to them, they would have known when to swing and when not to, which pitch to use at which moment, when to run and when to stay near the base, and exactly where the outfielders should be to catch every ball. I’ll give you a hint on this last one. The fans always would have been right where the ball happened to arrive. Missing the catch was adequate evidence that the player was out to lunch for the play!
In our churches and in Christian living we have the opportunity to be fans or to be on the team. Unlike baseball, the Christian roster isn’t limited. If you think you know how to do it, you can get right out there and do it. If your current church congregation won’t let you, find another one. Just make sure you’re not shopping for churches as you would for easy chairsâ€”looking at the one that makes it easiest to get comfortable. Look for the place where you can serve.
It’s easy to solve the problems of the church over dinner. You don’t actually have to run a church while you’re at it. It’s easy to solve other people’s problemsâ€”you don’t have them! It’s easy to know what a leader should doâ€”you don’t have to take responsibility for the results.
My point here is not to beat up on our talking and arguing. Those of you who know me are well aware that I’d be throwing stones from a glass house on that point! What I’m suggesting is that we each look at the human side of what we argue and do something about the issues. Get involved. Get active. Make a difference.
It may be that you are there mostly to spread the word, as I do when I write or speak. You may be called to a church committee, God forbid! You may just be called upon to say a prayer, or make a call to a discouraged pastor and speak an encouraging word. In fact, as I write this, I feel called to write an e-mail to someone I know who may need encouragement this morning.
What are you called to do? Are you a fan? Are you on the sidelines? Or are you in the game?