by Ed Watson
‘Surely I can’t be blind, can I?’ It’s amazing how often I implicitly say this to myself, whether I’m making a theological argument or judging the quality of a film. ‘Surely I can’t be blind!’ I’ll say. ‘I’ve thought about this issue long and hard. There are thousands who agree with me who are equally certain. It has been shown that the other side are not simply wrong, but actively harming the world. It has been shown that they are blind: and if that’s so, then surely it can’t be that I am too!’
It’s easy for me to become complacent in my views, whatever they may be. It’s simple to surround myself with people who agree with me, whether on the internet or in the real world; people who reinforce those views, who speak so well that they must be right (so well that I, of course, must be right as well!). It’s easy to forget that in doing this I don’t become the blind man gaining sight: I become the Pharisee, so set in my ways I become incredulous at the very idea that I might be wrong.
Jesus is the light of the world: nothing is seen truly except through him. This is what I must constantly remind myself. Whenever my eyes or mind land on anything with certainty, even (especially!) when I think it is shown by Christ, I must remain prepared to move again when he calls me onward. I must be ready to bow down and say ‘Lord, I believe’, again and again and in new ways. I must be ready to do so in front of those who currently agree with me, but who may judge me for humbling myself; for changing my mind.
It is, of course, all too easy for this readiness to collapse in on itself; for faith to become Pharisaism. I can claim to have gained such knowledge of God’s Word that I become the authority: that it is not the Word of God which speaks to me, but I who speak the Word. I might believe that what appeared true to me is the only way that things could ever be, failing to remember the earth’s contingency, even when inspired by God’s constant love. Believing myself to have seen the only truth, I might forget that a part of loving those I think to be my enemies is to listen to them, to remember that apart from the person of Jesus Christ I am just as blind as I might accuse them of being. I might now become so sure of my faith that it becomes faith in myself as opposed to God. I must remember that God always finds me in new ways, reaching me where I am and as I am not so I can rest in the safety of my assumptions, but so that by unsettling my own authority I can find rest in him.
At some point I must make a decision, of course. I must act one way or the other, praying that through God’s grace I might make the right choice. If I am not to become blind in my complacency, however, I must ever listen anew, ever pray anew, ever bow anew. I must never stop asking to be made well, asking to see Christ’s glory. I must remind myself this Lent to challenge myself by truly listening to those who disagree with me, rather than assuming from the outset that I know what they have to say and why they’re wrong. I must read all things with charity, lest Christ be trying to reach me from some expected place in some unexpected way (as per usual), but I become deaf to him by my pride. Otherwise I will find myself in the position of the Pharisees, incredulous at the idea that I might be blind because I have forgotten the one from whom I received my sight: the One Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God. This then is my prayer today: that I might constantly remind myself that without Christ I am blind, so that I might never close my heart to seeking and seeing Him anew.
Ed is a Brit living in America as part of The Red House, an intentional religious community in New Haven, CT. He divides his work between helping Forward Movement with its social media, working in Graduate Support at St Martin de Porres Academy, a middle school for under-privileged students, and otherwise living community life. He manages to fill his spare time reading, supporting Liverpool FC and Scottish Rugby, attempting to understand American sports, and enjoying the company of his wonderful housemates.