When blind faith is better than none

Autumn Rhythm No. 30, Jackson Pollock, 1950.

Just last month we had a sermon entitled “as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” These were the words of the Lord Jesus to the Roman Centurion who had showed great faith in Jesus and all that He could do. In today’s passage from St. Matthew we become witnesses to two separate events involving 3 people. The first two are blind men and the last is a demon possessed man. Now in the case of the 2 blind men, the Lord Jesus responds to their request with these words, “According to your faith be it done to you.” This is quite a similar response to what we heard last month…. “as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”

It reminds us that in some ways the “power” of God in our lives depends on us. As you know, Jesus could not do miracles in His own hometown and we are told that this was specifically due to a lack of faith. Perhaps their lack of faith even came from the fact that they had known Him since He was a young boy. They were familiar with Him and not open to the fact that He was in fact quite special. It is like the man who is married and has a wonderful wife and yet he finds that he is bored and looking for something different, perhaps he’s having a mid-life crisis. This man is likely to begin acting in an ungrateful way, and taking his wife for granted even though he has always been treated with great love and dignity. He will find reasons to complain and bicker because something great and awesome like a good marriage and a decent wife has become familiar, even commonplace.

What does this all have to do with the gospel reading? Much of life depends upon our day to day attitude. We see only what we would like to see.  We are once again forced to  encounter the words of the Lord Jesus: “according to your faith, be it done to you.” If you’ve ever encountered atheists or read their work you find that they (claim to) lack faith. They don’t believe that miracles are possible. They certainly don’t believe that it is possible that Jesus is the Son of God who rose from the dead. They believe that our faith is just a blind faith with no logical foundation, no proof whatsoever. There is very little that God can actually do for such a person because they have not opened themselves up to the possibility that they might be wrong. They lack faith. Jesus spoke of such people in the parable of the sower.

The truth is that a person who lacks faith is sort of like the disgruntled husband who has taken his life for granted. They lack the ability to see what is right in front of them. They breathe the air, they eat the food, they partake of the joy of life and imagine that all of this is not a gift but pure dumb luck. The wonder and awe and beauty and order and design of the world is right before their eyes and they imagine that it is all the product of randomness and chance. Like a person who assumes that the Mona Lisa was created by putting a blank canvas in a box along with some random paints and brushes and simply shaking up the box for a while; they are delusional. No matter how long the box is shaken, it will never randomly create the Mona Lisa. Perhaps it could recreate similar work to that of Jackson Pollock. God loves and respects us so much that He will not force anyone to believe. He can show a few signs but even the signs are rejected. But if we have faith, He demonstrates that He is ready, willing and able to do amazing things for our benefit. He is ready to offer both physical and even more importantly, spiritual healing.

Do you have any idea how much faith the blind men had? They had never actually seen the Lord. They had never seen Him do even one small miracle! What is most amazing of all is that the two blind men don’t even ask to receive their sight! Here is what they say “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” Often people will say “why are our services long?” We repeat this phrase “Lord have mercy” often. We are training ourselves to be faithful. The words of our prayers are like training wheels for our heart and mind. We have very little that we actually need apart from the mercy of God. The men could have asked to receive their sight. They could have asked for any number of things. But only one thing was necessary….His mercy. God’s mercy is unlimited….but what is the limit of our faith?

We each struggle with many issues and we think that we can never rise above the challenges. That we can never become better. That we can never be forgiven. That we can never overcome addictions. That we can never be freed from depression and melancholy. That we can never become holy men and women. That we can never help others who are truly in need. That we can never become saints. But that is simply not true. There is more than enough mercy, what is lacking is the faith to ask with our whole heart and mind. What is lacking is the courage to have even a shred of faith….. because even a shred of true faith is enough to move the mountains in our life.

Don’t hesitate to really, truly fall down to your knees and open your heart to God. If you don’t learn to call out to God like the blind men, you will nearly always fail to see the miracle. Glory be to God Forever, AMEN.

 

 

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5 thoughts on “When blind faith is better than none

  1. Don’t forget that it’s not the fault of atheists that we lack faith. Faith is a gift from God (Eph 2:8-9). If people like me are as stupid as you seem to think we are, it’s not our fault. We can’t force God to bless us with faith, no matter how much we may want it.

    • Thanks Critic. I appreciate the comment. Please note that I don’t suggest stupidity is at work here. It is a matter of misplaced faith. Also please keep in mind that the verse you quoted does not refer to faith as a gift…rather it is the grace of God (the free giving of His Son) that is the gift. Thanks again.

      • Having misplaced faith is stupid. You say we believe all these silly things and that we miss or reject the obvious. I feel like it is implied that we’re not the smartest people around. But that’s okay, if that’s your opinion. Just don’t shy away from it.

        I never thought of the verse like that. It’s unclear to me which interpretation is correct, which is annoying because it’s an important distinction. My teachers always interpreted it as that faith was the gift, as it immediately precedes the bit about the gift. So I’ve always thought of it like that.

        I think your interpretation, however, weakens the argument of the verse. If your faith is your own, and not a gift from God, then you would be able to boast about that. But you might be right. I don’t know. Thanks for the interesting insight into that verse.

  2. Dear Critic,

    Having misplaced faith may indeed be stupid, but that was not at all the point that I made. Regarding your quote from Ephesians. Please note that the notion that God chooses some people to grace with faith is quite a western and even Calvinist notion regarding the nature of God. We do not believe this reflects the truth of God. As it is written in 1 Timothy 2:4 “(God) desires all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Any other picture of God is a downright abomination.

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