There was a blind beggar sitting by the roadside, or so the story goes, when Jesus and his disciples were passing by on their way out of Jericho. Of course, the blind man did not know who was passing by, only that there was a commotion. But when he heard that the stir was about Jesus of Nazareth he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Perhaps it was the plaintiveness of this man’s voice or the sincerity and desperation in his tone that got Jesus’ attention. Or maybe it was the man’s perseverance and increasing volume as he shouted to be heard that gave Jesus pause. Possibly it was simply the potential and possibility Jesus saw in the life of this man that inclined Jesus to ask that the man be called upon.
The story leaves no doubt about the delight that filled that moment. Throwing his cloak aside the man jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
“I want to see.”
The circumstances in our world and particularly in our nation today, leave no doubt that I am that blind man. I’m that beggar. I am Bartimaeus, son of the unclean. Lord, have mercy on me.
Help me to see where my place of privilege has kept me in the dark. Show me where my teaching has been sparse and my learning was filtered and faulty. Hear my pleading, my sincerity and my determination to come face to face with the truth — a truth I have seen but not recognized, a truth I have heard but not responded to, a truth so ugly I have turned away from it in disgust and disbelief, even as it has been shared by trustworthy friends.
Today it is clear that the truth doesn’t disappear just because it remains unacknowledged. Truth stands its ground, waiting to speak. It waits for us to address and set aside the falsehoods, biases and preconceived notions which currently cloud our vision. It waits patiently for each of us to respond to the question Jesus asks: what do you want me to do for you?
I want to see.
Lord, heal these eyes and expand my vision. Grant me the courage to look at what’s hard to see and to listen to what’s hard to hear, so I can walk closely with you and with those who bear the weight of injustices leveled by me and by those like me.
Lord, have mercy, as we learn to walk by faith into new sight.
Superman comic books used to be all the craze when I was a kid. I read them. Okay, I looked at the pictures and followed the dialogue. I rooted for the good guy in the cape. The man of steel. Nothing could stop him, except kryptonite, and who has kryptonite? Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. And not just for show; our hero was keeping us safe from the bad guys out there. No need to worry when Superman was on the job.
All he needed was a phone booth to change in. The guy entered as mild mannered Clark Kent and emerged as Superman. Something changed when he put on the suit and the cape. Then he was ready to go fight bad guys. Waging a never-ending battle for “Truth, Justice and the American Way!”
Truth, justice and the American way…. now there’s an old-fashioned trio. Today we have more savvy. We don’t fall for comic book heroes.
- Truth? That’s malleable. I have mine; you have yours. Lets agree to disagree so we can get along.
- Justice? That’s negotiable. The ends justify the means, so let’s just skirt these rules; after all, I have good intentions.
- American way? That’s laughable. Everybody knows Americans are power-hungry and just out to make a fast buck; that’s no way to live.
What a bunch of propaganda those comic books were feeding me, an impressionable kid who didn’t know any better. But somehow this echoes in the back of my mind as I listen to the question posed to people who intend to join our church fellowship.
“Do you accept the power that God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever the forms they present themselves?”
We all say yes as a matter of course. It’s expected. But what if we said yes and really meant it? It’d be like stepping into the phone booth. We’d be face to face with…
Do I believe that God has the power to resist evil, injustice and oppression in all its forms?
Do I believe that God offers that power to me?
Do I believe that if I say yes, I have this power, too?
Is God crazy? Do I look like Clark Kent?
In fact, in many ways I do. Mild-mannered. Glasses. And ordinary… Blogger. Mom. Sports enthusiast. Coach. Christian. Ah, that last one. Perhaps that’s the cape. When I put it on, I can do things I never thought I could do.
I’m no Superhero. But I am meant to combat evil, injustice and oppression in all its forms. The power to do that, so it seems, is available if I accept it. But that’s dangerous. Because if it’s real, I am meant to do something with it. Not just admire the costume hanging in the closet, but put it on and venture out. I have to face the bad guys. Literally, wield the forces of good against the evil that is out there. Speak up and take action against injustices I see. Advocate for the oppressed, especially those without the resources to fight for themselves.
It comes with the job, with the cape, with the “yes.” In that moment, the God of the Universe ties his Superpowers in a bow around my neck. Can I really imagine such a God? One that wages a never-ending fight for truth and justice? And trusts us to wield His power?
What if that were the world’s way?