Summary: This series is based upon Mike Yaconelli’s book "Messy Spirituality and is designed to help seekers understand that God wants our Nitty and our Gritty Lives.
May 25 & 26, 2002
“Nitty Gritty…Meet Religion”
John Currier in 1949 was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Later he was transferred and paroled to work on a farm near Nashville, Tennessee.
In 1968, Currier’s sentence was terminated, and a letter bearing the good news was sent to him. But John never saw the letter, nor was he told anything about it. Life on that farm was hard and without promise for the future. Yet John kept doing what he was told even after the farmer for whom he worked had died.
Ten years went by. Then a state parole officer learned about Currier’s plight, found him, and told him that his sentence had been terminated. He was a free man. Would it matter to you if someone sent you an important message-the most important in your life-and year after year the urgent message was never delivered? Well folks, the message is seemingly going undelivered. The Bible is the top selling book in the world year after year after year. In fact it has been on the top of the bestseller list for a dozen and a half decades. A USA Today poll showed that 23%, almost one in four, professing Christians, have never read the bible. 51% said that they read the bible monthly; yet, half couldn’t name the four gospels. A group of students reported that the New Testament Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luther and John; that Eve was created from an apple and that Jesus was baptized by Moses.
A New England teacher quizzed a group of college bound high school juniors and seniors on the Bible. The answers were astounding. Among the more unusual answers was that Sodom and Gomorrah were lovers and Jezebel was Ahab’s donkey. The answer that took the prize was given by a fellow who was academically in the top 5 percent of His class. The question, “What Is Golgotha?” The answer, “Golgotha was the name of the giant that slew the apostle David. Just as sure as John Currier’s message that his sentence was commuted the message of scripture is going undelivered and when the message is undelivered, no one sees what I coming.
It was their downfall; they didn’t see it coming at any time. The company became rather preoccupied with their organizational chart; who had what title, what was the reporting procedure, charting, standard operating procedures, all good stuff. The problem was- their product was hopelessly obsolete and overpriced. So no matter how much they tweaked and rearranged, bankruptcy trustees finally took over. Or the young fellow who bought his first car. Washed and waxed it regularly. Vacuumed it. Made the tires gleam with Armor-All. But he never noticed the odd noise under the hood, till it ran out of oil and the engine seized up. The repair bill was $1400 dollars. Or, the individual who kept painting that funny looking brown spot on the kitchen ceiling. But after the next rainfall…
All of these worried about the externals, they looked no further than skin deep. Trouble was for all these people, the outside stuff was just wrapping. What really mattered, and what they never managed to pay attention to, was a little bit deeper. That is religion. Religion and religious people look at externals, the package, and the color scheme of the room. Truly spiritual are attuned to the things that only are sensed spiritually and rarely can be known empirically. So it was with the crowd and the blind man from our scripture passage today.
The crowd was like any other crowd. It was boisterous, the words emanating from the throng were probably indistinct, just a rabble really. Those in the crowd probably had no concern about what was happening around them that is until one person has the audacity to halt their parade and one person has the audacity to call out to the very person you are seeking to be close to yourself. Every person in the crowd could have called out to Jesus, if they had the audacity. But, they didn’t so instead they heaped words of rebuke upon the man who had the courage to call out to Jesus in the midst of his personal nitty gritty. He is a blind guy. He calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” The first words he hears are often the first words we hear when our Nitty Gritty meets religion. “Shut Up!” Or, “Keep quiet!”
We have all been yelled at or yelled down, that is why we react that way. Religion even has the gall to say things like, “It is a sin to question God.” Or, “It’s not right to ask questions like that.” Wrong!!! The blind man proves it. It is not wrong to call out, to question, it might be socially and religiously unacceptable to do so but it is never wrong in the eyes of Jesus. The blind man when rebuked calls out all the more!