When you’re born different, people look at you funny – like you’ll never measure up to their perfect standards. I should know. From a young age I struggled with self-worth. At school I had to wear a “pirate’s” patch to correct my lazy eye and plates in my shoes to help flat feet develop arches. Shorter than most of my peers, I had a painful shyness that kept me from telling the so-called “beautician” not to crop my locks to match my height. No other girl in my kindergarten class had a pixie cut. I hated that boyish look and the way my teachers tried to fix me.
“Why don’t you keep a tidy desk like other girls?” they asked.
“What TV programs keep you from getting your homework done?”
“Don’t be afraid. I won’t bite. Why won’t you talk?”
Maybe I clammed up because I felt so messed up inside – identity crisis city. My hair could not grow fast enough to hide the shame I felt. Why didn’t this late bloomer fit in with everybody else? I tried to please them but all I got was frustration. That’s where all this garbled chicken scratch came from: multiple ideas bottled up inside, exploding like warm soda once the cork is popped. Piles of unorganized papers strewn everywhere litter my office space. This makes no sense.
CRINKLE, RIP, SHRED!
II. Identity Crises Caused By Peer Pressure
Tears roll down my cheeks as hours of exhaustive research get flushed down the drain. At least, that’s how it feels sometimes. But perhaps I can salvage this mess. Meanwhile, this is what it feels like:
Pearls before swine. Fruit rotting on the vine plops into a sinkhole for creativity. What a waste of time and ink and trees! Identity crisis. Who am I? Help!
Living to meet others’ expectations is like the Israelites gathering stubble to make bricks. It doesn’t blunt the crack of Pharaoh’s whip. After you’ve been under it a while, you start to wonder, “Who am I anymore?”
Aaron tried to please people, and look what happened. Caving to peer pressure, he cast aside faith more precious than gold in favor or worldly gold. He took wealth plundered from Egyptians – God’s favor so richly poured out on His people – and from it formed a killer calf which caused three thousand deaths – all because they had their eyes fixed on absent Moses. Tired of waiting for his promised return, they sought an excuse to reconnect with old bondages.
Like Esau, they squandered their birthright on temporary feel-good pleasures. Then there’s Samson who was born different – meaning, he had a special purpose. Yet he yielded to Delilah’s badgering. Close-up and personal peer pressure foisted upon him an identity crisis of major proportions.
Snip, snip! There went his locks.
Back to the hair thing again.
I wear it the way I want to know, rather than how others want it styled.
III. Free to Be Different
Because I’m different. I don’t need to wear my hair the way they say I should. Instead of giving in to others, I’ll fight to keep it long. I’m not changing it to fit their mold, or other aspects of my personal appearance for that matter. And when it comes to personality, I’m free to be myself – which means, I’ll gladly be the person God wants me to be. Because that’s what’s it’s all about for the Bible believer – believing who God says you are in Christ.
“For if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. All things have become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)
God’s kindness cures our blindness because it’s not there to remind us
Of that hideous black monster known as sin, For if He focused on our sin, we’d never win.
God’s Kindness To The Man Born Blind
“So, Master, who sinned – this man or his parents -, that he was born totally blind?”
Jesus’ disciples asked him (as recorded in the gospel of John, chapter 9), for they wished to know His mind.
“Neither He nor His parents sinned,” Jesus answered. “He was born blind so that God’s works (i.e. His miracle power) might be manifest in him.”
Jesus showed God’s kindness by healing the man’s blindness. This miracle opened people’s eyes to see that God is good. He knew a dark hour was coming, and he wanted them to see that anything apart from God is vanity (see Ecclesiastes 12:8-14).
“While I’m in the world, I am the world’s light,” Jesus said. The miracles He did gave proof that He was the Messiah, the Savior – not condemner – of the world (see John 3:17).
Jesus healed all sorts of people, not just the blind. To those who criticized Him for healing on the Sabbath, He explained that healing shows God’s kindness.
For example, in Mark chapter 3:4 Jesus compared healing a man’s withered hand to doing good and saving a life. Then in Luke 14:5, He compared healing a man with dropsy to pulling a donkey or ox out of a pit. In Luke 13:16, He used the analogy of leading an ox or donkey to water to describe his deliverance of a woman who had a spirit of infirmity. And in Matthew 9:6 he connected the healing of a paralyzed man with forgiving the man’s sins.
For “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory,” according to Romans 3:23. “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.” (Isaiah 1:5). “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
No one deserves a miracle from God. That’s the point. “But who has believed our report?” Isaiah asks in chapter 53, verse 4.
Those who think they’ve earned God’s kindness
Are still walking in blindness,
Not realizing that miracles aren’t granted
Based on their worth,
But Jesus wants them to undergo a second birth
So that they can see God’s kingdom come on earth.
“Believe the works (the miracles), that you may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in Him.” John 10:38
An angry god would condemn a blind man, but God’s kindness removes a person’s blindness every time.
Walking in Faith
God’s kindness removes our blindness by leading us to repentance.
“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…” Romans 1:20
Jesus used something that He Himself had made to help a blind man see what had remained invisible to him since birth. He used his own spit mixed the dirt to anoint the man’s eyes.
At first glance, it might seem like a strange thing to do, but keep in mind that Jesus was pure and holy, without sin. Moreover, every part of Him, even His saliva, had been consecrated to God at His baptism. His spit came from a mouth that spoke God’s Word, defeating every temptation the devil threw at him.
Consider for a moment how tempted Jesus might have been to walk right past the blind man and refrain from healing him. Surely, he knew how it would anger the religious leaders to hear that once again He had healed a man on the Sabbath. The heartless, albeit religious thing to do would have been to wish the man well and leave him alone.
However, Jesus believed in giving him the things his body needed, which in this case happened to be sight (see James 2:16).
I believe that as Jesus spat into the dirt, He placed a seed of pure faith into it. He placed it on the man’s eyes, then sent him to wash in the pool of Siloam.
Jesus had provided the faith. Now it was up to the man. Would he take that faith and act on it or would he hide it like the talent burier in the parable? After all, he couldn’t see yet and I’m sure he needed some help getting to that pool.
This is where trust comes in, because if we really believe God’ kindness can cure our blindness, we’ll accept help from other believers. For even if one of them makes a wrong step while leading us to the pool of God’s Word, we’ll still make it. Then, when we apply that Word to the faith with which Jesus has touched our eyes, we can be cured of our blindness.
That’s what the blind man did. He activated Jesus’ seed of faith by going to Siloam (which means “sent”) and washing in the water. As he washed, he got his miracle.
The man’s belief in God’s kindness removed his blindness, because he saw that God was good and took the time to put feet to this faith.
Let’s contrast his view of God with the talent burier who called his master “a hard man.” (see Matthew 25:24) Because he saw him as a hard man, he hid his faith treasure in the dark, but his Master wanted that treasure brought into the light.
“For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” – John 3:20-21
Faith is a priceless treasure for those who see Jesus as He truly is.
Those who are blind to His kindness, however, tend to bury their faith rather than walk in it.
That’s why the master in the parable was displeased with the talent burier, for without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), “… for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
So much for keeping one’s faith to one’s self. Had the blind man buried his faith by neglecting to wash, he wouldn’t have been healed.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” – James 2:26
Thankfully, the blind man acted on his faith. As a result, he received his miracle.
“Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Matthew 15:14
The man who had been healed of his blindness was doing great. Then someone brought him to the Pharisees for questioning.
The religious leaders couldn’t get past the red lights flashing on and off inside their heads.
“Warning! Sabbath breach! No healing on the Sabbath.” The ideas that held those warnings in place remained firmly entrenched inside their minds. First, they questioned whether or not the man had actually been born blind. Then they asked who had opened his eyes.
They even called his parents in to verify the information. They acknowledged that yes, indeed, their son had been born blind.
“How is it that he sees now?” they asked the parents.
“We don’t know. Ask him,” answered his frightened mom and dad. They knew that if they said, “Jesus did it” that the Pharisees would kick them out of the synagogue.
So, they approached the healed man once again. This time, instead of questioning him, they assaulted him with their rigid, iron-clad opinion: “We know this man is a sinner.”
Instead of praising God that the man had been healed, they argued with him. That’s how cold religion treats God’s treasures.
“I knew you were a hard man.” Dig, dig, dig. “That’s why I wrapped my talent in a blindfold and dumped dirt on it.”
Like the men who blindfolded Jesus and insulted them as they beat up on him, the Pharisees trashed the ex-blind man and tried to invalidate his miracle.
The man who had been born blind thought they were crazy. “We know that God doesn’t hear sinners,” he told them. “But if any man worships God and does His will, God hears him. This is the first known time in history that any man has opened the eyes of the blind. If this man was not of God, he could do nothing.” (John 9:31-33)
Only a theologian with a very complicated view of God could mess up such a simple, child-like line of reasoning.
That’s exactly what those Pharisees were: complicated theologians. Their rigid perception of God’s law in regard to the Sabbath day holy blinded them to God’s greatest commandment:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind;and love your neighbor as yourself.” (see Luke 10:27, Deuteronomy 6:5, and Leviticus 19:18)
“You were born in sins,” they told the man. “How dare you lecture us?”
In other words, “If you were born blind, it’s because either you or your parents sinned.”
Apparently, the Pharisees had sin, not love, on the brain. Instead of rejoicing that God in His kindness had healed the man’s blindness, they kicked him out of the synagogue. How is that for loving your neighbor? How is that for loving God?
“For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” I John 3:11
“But he who hates his brother walks in darkness, and walks in darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because that darkness has blinded his eyes.” John 2:11
God’s Kindness When Blindness Is Caused by Sin
Like When a Potter Dumps Ashes on Your Head
God’s kindness cures our blindness, no matter what the cause.
One time on television, a woman who had been blind came forward.to testify that she had just been healed. As it turned out, witchcraft had caused her to go blind. It was like a log of offense in her eyes and a stumbling block to her feet. In order to her to see God clearly, the lies behind the witchcraft had to be removed. The preacher’s gospel message removed those lies. That’s how God’s kindness cured her blindness.
The following scriptures talk about witchcraft and why God hates it:
“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead?
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:19-20
According to this passage, people involved in witchcraft or who possess familiar spirits have no light in them. The light they think they have is darkness. It is as if an invisible but very hairy potter has dumped ashes on their heads. The ashes look hairy, but boy are they scary!
“Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:31
“And the soul that turns after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a-whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.” Leviticus 20:6
“There shall not be found among you anyone that makes his son or his daughter to pass though the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD your God does drive them out from before you.” – Deuteronomy 18:10-12
As Jesus said in Matthew 6:22-23, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye is single, your whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
We see a stark difference between light and darkness in Acts 13:6-12, which shows Paul confronting a sorcerer named Bar-jesus (aka Elymas). Paul and Barnabas were trying to speak God’s Word to a deputy named Sergius Paulus, but Elymas kept disagreeing with him. He wanted to turn the deputy from the faith. But Paul looked straight at Elymas and pronounced a judgment of temporary blindness upon him.
“And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.” (verse 11).
“Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.” (verse 12)
God’s kindness, demonstrated in the form of a judgment on the sorcerer, cured the deputy’s blindness. It also served as a warning to the sorcerer to turn from his wicked ways.
You can see why God hates witchcraft as well as any type of sorcery, which tries to put other gods before him contrary to the first commandment (see Exodus 20:3).
“Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people!” – Isaiah 57:14
God doesn’t want us bowing to any other gods, and He condemns all forms of idolatry. (For a more detailed description of what those are, keep reading the passage in Exodus. God doesn’t want us to have idols, because idols are like logs in our eyes. They get in our way and make us stumble. For those of us who like to justify our idols (and that’s everyone), consider this scripture:
“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they but they smell not.
. . . hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not:
Neither speak they through their throat.
They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusts in them.” – Psalm 115:4-8
Idols have eyes but don’t see, and the same holds true for those who worship them. Idolatry blinds people’s eyes to God, for we become like what we worship.
Ah, but greater is God’s Holy Spirit who lives in the believing Christian than Satan, who is the force behind all witchcraft and idolatry (see I John 4:4).
It is God’s kindness to remove such logs from our eyes. God’s kindness can cure our blindness if we’ll allow Him to.
Fresh Vision of God’s Kindness For a Lukewarm Church
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.” – Proverbs 29:18
God’s kindness cured Paul’s blindness,
Though that blindness came from Christ,
Because Paul didn’t fear Him
Until he was put on ice.
While he was on a mission hot
To jail all who believed,
A light shone on him suddenly.
What a shock the man received!
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.”
Paul thought that he was doing right,
Upholding God’s own law,
As he imprisoned Christians.
In his plan he saw no flaw.
A Pharisee of Pharisees,
He kept every command
Gamaliel taught him to keep,
Yet failed to understand
God’s grace supplied by Jesus
Who detained him on the road
And asked him as he trembled,
“Why do you kick against the goad?”
For Paul thought he was doing right.
His actions lacked no zeal.
His vision, though, lay broken,
Waiting for someone to heal.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.”
Like the man born blind from birth,
This Paul required a fresh start
To complete the miracle
That Jesus planted in his heart.
So, God chose Ananias
To act as His healing tool.
He placed his hands upon Paul’s eyes
And led him to the proverbial pool
Immediately, Paul could see again.
The scales fell from his eyes.
Like a man who had been newly born,
He arose and was baptized.
God’s kindness had cured his blindness,
So, he called on Jesus’ name,
For God had given him a vision,
And a calling free from shame.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.”
The vision Paul pursued
Was not to hold onto God’s law,
As if he knew to keep it like the One
Who has no flaw.
It was, rather, the Law of Liberty
That comes from Christ,
A vision centered on His grace
And not on cold advice.
God’s kindness cured Paul’s blindness, and that’s what God is doing in His church today. Can you hear Him speaking to us like Jesus spoke to the “Lazy-to-see-you” Laodicean church in Revelation 3:15?
He tells them, “Your works are neither cold nor hot.” In other words, they weren’t cold toward Jesus, but they weren’t on fire either. It’s as if they wanted to please everyone, but in the process could please no one. Instead of being hot or cold, they were just lukewarm, like a man taking a bath when he hears the doorbell ring.
“Who is it? Oh. It’s only Jesus. Tell him I’ll be there in a few.”
Meanwhile Jesus stands at the door and keeps on knocking. He wants to anoint the man’s eyes with special salve so he can see the stripes that paid for his healing.
God’s kindness waits to cure our blindness and give us fresh vision for our lives. The question is, will we accept his invitation?
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20
“And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.” Matthew 21:14
How many of us have glossed over this scripture when we read about Jesus casting the merchandisers and money-changers from the temple? Before he healed the blind and lame, he had to cast out the thieves.
“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy,” Jesus stated in John 10:10. But, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
In Jesus’ day, thieves ruled in God’s house, the temple. That’s because they had allowed the biggest thief of to influence them – the thief that steals, kills and destroys. That thief is the devil.
Sometimes before Jesus could heal people, he had to cast out the devil behind the disease.
The passage in Luke 13:11-16 gives an account of a woman who had a spirit of infirmity. She walked hunched over, which meant she was looking down and couldn’t see straight. In a sense, it was like being blind. It also kept her from walking straight, so in a way she was lame too.
But when Jesus spoke the word and laid his hands on her, she straightened up. No stumbling block kept her from seeing the path that lay before her and walking in it. She had come into the synagogue (the equivalent of church for a Christian) and received not only healing, but deliverance too. Once Jesus cast the thief out, what was blind and lame in her got healed.
It wasn’t just a spiritual healing, it was physical too! But to heal her, Jesus had to cast out the spirit that kept her bound.
Peter told the Cornelius crowd in Acts 10:38 that Jesus went about doing good and healing everyone the devil had oppressed,
He first cast out the thieves, then healed the blind and lame.
What, if anything, immobilizes you and/or blinds you to whatever opportunities are knocking on your door? Do you need some sort of healing, whether spiritual or emotional?
The thief may try to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus gives abundant life to all who will believe.
“Write the vision and make it plain. . . so he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2
When Pete Plain, a twelve-year-old with “two left feet,” gets his hands on a colorful but illegal comic book, he can’t resist taking a peek inside. What happens next changes his entire life.
The boy who was never very good at anything gets taken on a journey far beyond his wildest dreams. As people from his past connect with people from the present, he struggles to understand what is happening. The more truth he uncovers, the more challenges he faces. Can he find help from another realm, with friends to help him overcome his fears and face the bullies in his life?
The visions Pete encounters on his comic book journey impart fresh hope to him, giving him strength to forgive and speed to help in time of need.
As his home life crumbles, he has nowhere to look but up. But will his natural tendency to look down get in the way?
And what about the boys shooting kids with toxic slime? Can Pete put an end to their mean pranks before it’s too late, or will the bitter malady known as Sadly Absent Dad Syndrome keep him from fulfilling his destiny?
With evil forces threatening to disable him, Pete faces an important choice. He can either allow the guilt of past mistakes to disable him or he can choose to rise above it.
Along the way he realizes that he has far to go. But he has a vision he can reach if he runs with it, moving step by step toward his goal.
One touch begins Pete’s journey. Who knows where it will end?
We all have a mission in life. The first step to fulfilling it is to find out what it is.
“Write the vision and make it plain, so he can run who reads it.”
Fourth in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series, The Silver Chair is one of my favorite fantasy books. It tells the story of two children from England who get called into the world of Narnia to find a missing prince. Aslan, the mighty lion and ruler of that world, sends them on this journey. He gives them specific signs that show them where to go and what to do. Unfortunately, their own disobedience and forgetfulness takes them on some dangerous twists and turns. Finally, they reach the underground fortress in which the prince is being held – but not against his will.
Unknown to them, a wicked witch has been keeping him under a spell, by means of a silver chair. He is bound to this chair every night, lest he regain his sanity and break free from her control. Only the name of Aslan can free him.
Does any of this sound familiar? Those familiar with the Bible should have no trouble recognizing the allegory:
The prince’s enslavement to the witch clearly represents demonic bondage. Such bondage, of course, begins with deception. In this case, the deception begins with a beautiful woman who is not what she appears. Can you picture the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve in the garden?
“Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)
The witch is like a serpent in disguise and represents the spirit of rebellion. Her goal is basically to use the prince to take over Narnia, a world of which he is already the rightful ruler. That’s what Satan tries to do to believers. He makes Christian believers think they have to take by force what already belongs to them as heirs of God and coheirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
Thankfully, the witch’s power is limited. The only way she can control the prince is to blind his mind to who he is. Every night, however, his mind begins to clear. But before he can regain his sanity, the witch’s servants bind him hand and foot to the silver chair. His own efforts to free himself are useless. He desperately needs deliverance, which brings us to…
Aslan, who is a “type” or symbol of Jesus Christ. He is the one who sends Jill and Eustace, along with their guide Puddleglum, to free the prince from the silver chair. Their swords are like God’s word, which when properly wielded, has power to slash through the prince’s bonds. But deliverance comes only through Aslan’s name, whereas in our world it comes only through Jesus’ name. The allegory is pretty easy to understand. But then we come to…
the chair itself, which is a stationary object. It’s what you sit on while watching TV, reading a book, or having a face-to-face conversation. To sit in a chair implies such actions as focusing, listening, and paying attention. Chairs are great to sit in if you’re hearing a rousing sermon, but all the prince heard while sitting in the silver chair was lies.
To quote Psalm 1:1 (KJV), “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, not stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.”
Romans 10:17 tells us that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
The witch’s voice was not a voice of faith, but of doubt. Rather than acknowledge God (Aslan) as the one who made the worlds, she tries to make them all believe that hers is the only world, which brings us to:
the silver in the chair, reminiscent of the thirty silver pieces paid to Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. No one suspected him. He was slippery as a serpent. Like the other disciples, he healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead (see Matthew chapter 10). But at the end, he sold himself to do evil.
He sat in his scorner’s seat too long and became too comfortable with it. His story ended tragically. As for the prince in TheSilver Chair, his story ends on a happier note. It contains numerous lessons on obedience, deliverance, spiritual warfare, and getting free from fear.