Blind Spots: Part 2 of 2
by John Lowe
No matter who you are, no matter your theological training, no matter your years of experience at being a religious person, everyone has a blind spot. And when you have a blind spot that you are unwilling to check on, and maybe you’re unwilling to admit you have a spiritual blind spot, then you just might miss out on what God is doing right there in your midst. Not only will a blind spot keep you from seeing what God is doing, but another thing about spiritual blind spots, as characterized by these Pharisees, is that a blind spot will keep you from seeing what you’re really doing. When you are driving a car and don’t check your blind spot, and you decide to make a lane change, you might not know it, but you might well be running into a car that is sitting right there in your blind spot.
And even in a spiritual sense, these Pharisees in this text were unaware that with all their theological probing, with their debates about Sabbath laws and whether it was lawful to make a bit of mud and smooth it over a blind man’s eyes for the purpose of making him see, with all those legal ramblings, they couldn’t see that they were making this newly healed man wonder about the nature of his healing. They were trying to make him feel like some ungodly force, some unholy being had brought about his healing. They were discrediting his sight as though he had no reason to be so jubilant about his miracle. They were so hung up on their doctrines that they were blind to what their doctrines were doing to real people. They were blind to the guilt they were heaping on a man that Jesus had just made whole. They were hurting the man. Where he had just been physically healed, they were emotionally and spiritually wounding the man. And they couldn’t see it. They had a blind spot. Oh, how many times we have allowed our blind spots to cause injury to brothers and sisters in Christ. I know because I have been injured by those who had blind spots concerning me. Some folks think that preachers don’t have feelings, and it doesn’t bother us when they complain about us or that it doesn’t hurt us when they say mean things about us or about our families.
Some folks, now, nobody here, but some folks have blind spots. I know that our blind spots can injure our brothers and sisters in Christ not only because I have been hurt, but because I have injured some with my own blind spots. Oh yes, I am not one who has eyes in the back of his head. And sometimes I have changed lanes too quickly, without checking properly, and without knowing that I was causing injury to someone. I stand here as a witness to the power of blind spots today, that if we don’t check them out, if we don’t watch out, we might be injuring someone and not realize it because we are blind to that spot. This happens so often not only in the Christian world, but in the social order as well.
Some folks who are professing Christians have had some social blind spots when it comes to people with a different way of life and different economic backgrounds, and different educational levels. White America for so long was blind to the humanity and contributions of Black America. And when you get a textbook that talks about Black contributions to American history and life, some of these folks say things like, "You shouldn’t be changing history, you shouldn’t be re-writing the history books. You shouldn’t tell the truth about some of these founding fathers, that Jefferson owned slaves and had children with Sally Hemings.”
There are blind spots where race comes in to play. When you don’t know anything about Black history, and you don’t know anything about Africa and you can’t see the marvelous contributions to American life by Black Americans, you have a blind spot. When you’re uncomfortable every time you ride an elevator with someone of color, when you clutch your purse and hold your wallet when a person of color walks by, those are blind spots. A black man made open heart surgery possible. A black woman started what became Bethune Cookman College. A Black man invented the stoplight. A Black woman developed cosmetics. And when these facts and others make you uncomfortable to hear them discussed, there may well be a blind spot. Oh, we need to check ourselves for blind spots folks. We need to examine our blind spots and see if there is something from God that we might be missing. We need to check our blind spots to see if we might not be hurting someone.
Now, most of us who are drivers know that we have blind spots. We know that we better check our blind spots before we change lanes, or make any kind of move. And the thing about spiritual blind spots is that there is all the difference in the world between those who know they have blind spots and those who don’t know they have them.
To Jesus in this text, there were essentially two kinds of people: those who were blind which he came to make see, and those who thought they were seeing when they were actually blind. Both of these were blind. But there is all the difference in the world to Jesus if you know you’re blind and if you don’t know you’re blind. If you have a blind spot and you know you have a blind spot, it will affect the way you proceed. You will act with more caution; you won’t be surprised and unsettled to learn that there was something happening that you didn’t know about. You won’t be amazed to learn that God was doing something with or without your permission.
When you know you have a blind spot and find that you have been hurting someone as a result of that blind spot, you will feel remorse and try to change your behavior so that you check your blind spot and prevent the hurt from happening again. But when you have a blind spot and don’t admit it, when you think you can see, like these Pharisees, and you really are as human as the next guy, you won’t take caution about where you’re going and who you’re hurting. If someone gets hurt and you don’t realize that it was a result of your blind spot, you’ll probably blame the victim for the trouble.
How many times have folks complained about civil rights leaders, who agitate and stir up trouble and make things uncomfortable for the oppressed classes? How many times have folks put into law their blind spots, keeping people from living free on the basis of their ethnic background and so forth? How many times have people, well-intentioned people, people who think they are doing right, actually wound up doing wrong and then blaming you for bearing the brunt of it. These Pharisees had good intentions but they were blind and didn’t know it.
Turn with me to the epistle 1 John, chapter 1 and verse 8. John is the one doing the writing.
Verse 8 says, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."
Folks, I am here to tell you that every one of us has blind spots. Every one of us is susceptible to not seeing things that God is doing, and to not seeing how our behavior affects people harmfully. All of us do it. None of us is immune to this kind of blindness. The hope of the gospel is that we will acknowledge our blindness, that we will be aware of our blind spots that we will proceed with caution toward others. But if we insist on maintaining our arrogant attitudes and our self-righteous spirituality, and if we fail to recognize that we too are blind, then we limit the ability of Jesus to give us spiritual eyesight. I’m talking about Humility, because we might just be wrong about the matter. And I’m talking about love, because even if we disagree about something, you’re still my brother and my sister. And I’m talking about meekness, because we may wind up in heaven one day, and find out that we were wrong.