Summary: Being healed/changed and following God is risky business, but man, is it eye opening!!
Wanting to improve or better yourself is risky business. Whether you’re going back to school to complete or further your education; whether you’re a mother who’s made the decision to reenter the work force; whether you’ve changed careers; whether you’ve relocated for the betterment of your family situation; whether you’ve committed yourself to losing weight; whether you’ve developed a new hobby or interest to broaden your horizons; whether you’ve dedicated yourself to a sport; whether you’re planning to participate in a mission trip to Brazil; or whether you’re a growing church in need of new educational space. Each of these decisions to improve your station in life is risky business, because something has to be given up and changed in order to take that step forward.
If you’re going back to school or back to work, the hours that now require you to be in class and study, or to be on the job, have to come from somewhere. We can’t create more hours in the day, so something has to give in order to have the time to return to school or work. Taking a new job or relocating your family is risky, because you find yourself in a new work environment, living in new community, having to develop new friendships and relationships.
Participating in mission trips and building programs will require the offering of time, energy, and money. All of these scenarios are worthwhile and fulfilling, but they involve risks.
Eight years ago, Paula and I were facing many of these same decisions at the same time. We were dealing with a call to ministry, which would require a job change, going back to school, relocating our daughter, while we anticipated the birth of a son. It was the right thing to do, but it wasn’t easy making those decisions, and it came with plenty of risks. But you know, following God, searching for healing and hope, and seeking fulfillment as His created being is risky business. Our scripture passage this morning is all about risky business.
Our story starts with finger pointing. As Jesus and the disciples are walking along, they notice a man who has been blind from birth, and the disciples point their finger and ask, “Who sinned and caused this man’s blindness? Is it his fault or his parents?”
The start to this man’s following God, finding healing and wholeness for his life, and seeking fulfillment as God’s creation, is accusations and finger pointing. How sad, but true? Often times the circumstances in our life aren’t as we would like them to be, and we also start pointing fingers and assigning blame. “I wouldn’t be in this mess, if you hadn’t…” “We wouldn’t have to deal with these problems, if you had only…” “I wouldn’t be missing out, if you had…”
There’s the story of a minor league baseball manager who was so disgusted with his center fielder’s performance that he ordered him to the dugout and assumed the position himself. The first ball that came into center field took a bad hop and hit the manager in the mouth. The next one was a high fly ball, which he lost in the glare of the sun—until it bounced off his forehead. The third was a hard line drive that he charged with outstretched arms; unfortunately, it flew between his hands and smacked his eye. Furious, he ran back to the dugout, grabbed the center fielder by the uniform, and shouted. ‘You’ve got center field so messed up that even I can’t do a thing with it!’
Recognizing the need for something different is an important first step, but finger pointing and assigning blame isn’t going to help anyone. Don’t find fault. Find a remedy.
Jesus provided the remedy, but it didn’t come without risks for him either. First, it was the Sabbath, and the present day religious establishment had created over 600 laws pertaining to the Sabbath, specifically outlining what you couldn’t do, and healing on the Sabbath was prohibited. Jesus decided to take a risk. He understood that this belief about the Sabbath needed to be challenged. He understood that it was more important to be obedient to his Heavenly Father than to the Pharisees. He understood that healing this man on the Sabbath, that providing this man with the opportunity to find God, that giving this man the chance to find fulfillment as a creation of God, was risky business. Being obedient is risky.
At a certain children’s hospital, a boy gained a reputation for wreaking havoc with the nurses and staff. One day a visitor who knew about his terrorizing nature made him a deal: “If you’re good for a week, I’ll give you $10 when I come back.” A week later she stood before his bed. “I’ll tell you what. I won’t even ask the nurses if you’ve behaved. You must tell me yourself. Do you deserve the $10?” After a moment’s pause, a small voice from underneath the sheets said: “How ‘bout a dollar!”