Last week I was travelling on the tube to a meeting. I thought it was appropriate that during Holy Week I was heading to Kings Cross. As I approached the station I happened to notice the announcement letting passengers know a few of the options of transfers available and possible places of interest to visit.
One such place that I was not aware of at Kings Cross are the offices for the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB). There is no reason I should have been aware of this, I have never needed to visit or use the services of the RNIB, yet it got me thinking. There are a few places in the Bible that speak of the blind being able to see (eg. Isaiah 35:5 & Matthew 11:5). It is common for Christian’s to speak of the need for physical healing and as such for those who are blind being able to see again. To realise that the RNIB is at Kings Cross during the week leading to Easter when I am thinking more about the cross of Christ and his subsequent resurrection presented something of a irony.
The blind being able to see in scripture does refer to physical transformation but more often than not it is an analogy; a parable for those who do not know salvation through Jesus having their spiritual eyes opened and recognising him as God’s son. I have been brought up with this message. I have been taught that as a church going Christian I am one of the enlightened ones, I know the truth and everyone who doesn’t is blind to the truth. The more I have studied, the deeper into Christian ministry I have fallen I increasingly wonder about the reality of this.
I do believe the Bible and I do believe that Jesus is Son of God. However, I am less certain that the church and all who attend are enlightened and humbly serve and love our neighbours. Increasingly I think that the church (particularly in the West) is blinded to the reality of the world. Blinded to the pain and suffering around them. Blinded to the pain and suffering that we cause.
I have come across those who claim to believe in the freedom to worship praying and campaigning against the building of Mosque’s. Preachers who speak in ways bordering anti-Semitism as they talk about the Pharisee’s and other Jewish leaders, Rabbi’s and teachers. There are church pastors with significant local, national and global influence speaking in racist, sexist and homophobic terms suggesting that they are doing so in love or to somehow bring forth God’s Kingdom. Just this past week Bethel Church has made a statement opposing legislation that will bring an end to conversion therapies in the State of California. The message from Bethel promotes an archaic ‘therapy’ that reinforces negativity and pressure already faced by those who identify as LGBT+ . I understand that many churches and Christian’s conclude that the Bible opposes homosexuality, but we are still called to love our neighbour and this message is not one of love.
My prayer about eyes being opened has altered over the years. Rather than the eyes of unbelievers being opened I find myself increasingly praying that the church would open its eyes to see the reality of the world; to recognise the glory of God at work in the world. I believe God’s Kingdom is one of justice and compassion rather than of judgement. In the days following the resurrection of Jesus his disciples had their eyes and minds opened to things they had not seen or understood previously. I pray that the church today would have its eyes opened and be a place; a people; a community of hope for the world.
Open the eyes of your Church, Lord.