Reading: John 9: 24-42
Verse 27b – Do you want to be His disciples, too?
Jesus has done something extraordinary for this man who was born blind. This man who would have been shunned in the temple or synagogue because of assumed sin in his life or past is touched and healed by Jesus. He experiences a radical change in his life because of Jesus’ radical love. He is so moved that he is willing to challenge the religious authorities with an audacious question to their ears: “Do you want to be His disciples, too”? In response, they hurl insults at him and throw him out. Even after this negative experience with religion and the synagogue, the man in undeterred in his newfound faith. In a second encounter with Jesus, he declares his belief and worships Jesus. It is a second act of radical love by Jesus to seek out and offer welcome to this man who was rejected by the religious leaders.
This story makes me think of the church today, of churches I have been a part of, and of the church I am at today. I often wrestle with the idea of just how big our circle of welcome really is – just who all would we genuinely welcome. It makes me think back to Jesus – the One we follow – and how Jesus loved all He met. He never said, “Come back when you are free from sin”, or “Come back when you are just like us”, or “Come back when you…”. Jesus met them where they were at, ministered to their needs at that moment, and loved them with all of His being. This is the One we follow.
People today are touched by Jesus all the time. They encounter the love of Christ in a radical way and wander into our churches seeking fellowship and belonging and a chance to explore this newfound faith with followers of Jesus Christ. When they walk through our doors do they all experience genuine welcome and more of the love of Christ? But what if they are a little rough around the edges or if we know their past or if they are new to this church thing or if… There should be no “if” to enter, to be truly welcome, to belong in our churches. There were “ifs” in the synagogue for the blind man and there still are in the church today. We must be very cognizant of our tendency to limit access, to judge, to stereotype, … and be true followers of Jesus Christ – ones who meet all right where they are at, who minister to them right then and there, and who love on them like they have always been a part of our churches. Then the love of Christ will grow. May we follow well the One who loves all.