When No One is to Blame


Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” (John 9:2-3)

Today’s lesson is based in a question we all struggle with sometimes. Why doesn’t (or can’t) God make everything right?

We are enamored with perfection. We want as close to perfect life and a perfect world as possible. And many of the images of God that we have constructed imply that God can make it so. And if it is not so then either God must be weaker than we thought or someone must deserve what he or she is getting.

But everywhere people struggle against some things that seem to know no context. People are born with limbs that don’t work or are missing, ears that don’t hear, and eyes that don’t see. People are injured or even killed by the actions of people they never even met. Why do these things happen? Who is to blame?

In the text above, Jesus’ disciples are trying to figure out how Jesus understands God to work in such situations. Something is wrong – someone must be to blame. Who is to blame here, that this man cannot see? Is it his fault that he can’t see? Or did his parents do something that made this happen? There is an imperfection – it must be someone’s fault. After all, things are supposed to be perfect!

Jesus opens the eyes of the man, but even more Jesus opens all of our eyes. Imperfections are part of the fabric of the world. It is a work in progress. It is not finished and until the reign of God comes in all its fullness, it will not be finished. Each “imperfection” is simply a place to get involved and show the ongoing power of God at work in the world. God is not finished yet.

We think we wish that God was done. We think we want perfection, but each thing that we think is wrong is not necessarily a mistake nor is there necessarily someone to blame. Each incomplete project, each “imperfection,” is yet another place for love to enter into the story and complete the act. Sometimes, God simply isn’t done working yet. And if we watch, in these places we will find amazing signs that God is still working, in our times and in our lives.

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