I mentioned the other day that I was born about a decade too late to catch all of the westerns on TV, but I did watch them in syndication as a kid. One of the things I loved to watch was the old saloon scenes, you know the ones. Somebody gets in a fight, the whiskey has been flowing free, so before long it's a full fledged brouhaha, and somebody is going to get thrown through a window out onto the street.
I loved it. Now I know it probably wasn't real glass, and that there were some Hollywood special effects probably involved, but just the idea of taking the rascal and tossing him out the window was great. I have to admit, there have been times that I've wanted to do that, even as a pastor. I'm not proud of it, just being honest. Just for the record, though, I never have.
But...there were some that did. If they didn't like what you were doing or saying, they would just throw you out, and to be thrown out then was a major deal. There is a story in this morning's life journal readings about that. There was some guy who had been born blind, and some other guy healed him, and then these other guys didn't like it, so they threw the used-to-be-blind guy out of the synagogue. I know! Can you believe it?
It started simply enough. Jesus and the guys, or guys and gals, were walking along and they saw the blind man. The disciples wanted to know who had messed up so that he had been born blind. Was it his sin? Or was it his parents'? You see that was what they believed then. If something bad happened to you, it was because you had done something bad. I'm just glad no one thinks like that anymore (Insert shameless attack on Pat Robertson's comments on Haiti and John Hagee's comments on Katrina here).
It boils down to this: Jesus had healed the man's eyes, so he was becoming a follower. He wasn't ready to call him Lord yet, but he was getting there. When he actually stood up for Jesus against the powers that be, they got mad and threw him out. Well, well, well. It happens, don't kid yourself.
If you stand up for the same things Jesus stood up for, somebody is going to get mad. Their problem was that this healing took place on the Sabbath. That's where all the trouble started, but I've already done the breaking the rules thing.
I love stories like this, and here's why. If you keep reading in John 9, you'll get to a place where Jesus learns this guy has been kicked out, goes looking for him, and finds him. Isn't that cool? Then, Jesus, like he does so many times, turns this whole thing into a teaching moment. He says that those who are blind will see and those who see will become blind.
I told you, he came to turn the world on its ears, and by dang, he did it. The question now becomes, can we keep up the momentum? Can we continue standing against systems and institutions that would rather throw you out than try to understand God working in your life? Can we continue opening blind eyes? Can we continue going after those who have been thrown out of other places? I'm game.
I know what will happen though, and I'm ready. I'm going to keep on, saying the things I say, doing the things I do, standing up for the underdog, and fighting for the marginalized, until I wind up laying on my back in the street picking glass out of my hair. But that's ok too. Jesus will find me.