Knowing What You Know
“They said to the man who’d been blind, ‘We know this man is a sinner.’ He answered, ‘I don’t know if he’s a sinner. One thing I do know, I was blind, now I see.'” – John 9:24-25
A blind seminary student announced in class that if Jesus offered her sight, she’d refuse. “What?!” the class erupted. She said there were advantages to blindness. For one, it made her less prejudiced: she’d never judged a book by its cover.
Still, they insisted she’d be better off sighted. She insisted there were worse things than being blind. “Like what?” they demanded. “Like getting worked over by bunch of know-it-all seminarians,” she replied.
The man born blind got worked over by a bunch of know-it-all theologians. The first thing he saw was disapproval. The first thing he learned was that some people know what can and can’t be known.
A pastor was grilling steaks when Christ spoke to him, changing his life. His congregation gave him free psychiatric care and paid leave. You can’t have revelations while grilling steaks and be a functioning pastor. You can’t be blind one minute, sighted the next. Can you?
“You’re the experts,” the newly-sighted man told his antagonists. “You know many things. I know one: I was blind, now I see.”
Faith isn’t a body of truths. It’s a kind of perceiving, a way of knowing. It notices God being unorthodox and still believes it is God. Commanded to un-know what it knows, it is frank and stubborn: I was dead, now I live; I was blind, now I see; I was lost, now I’m found.
The man was ostracized for his candor. Refusing to un-know is a painful stripping away. Mercy received is a burden you can’t unshoulder. Yet you feel so light under the weight; you feel so rich with only Jesus to your name.
Here’s what I know: Your upending mercies are everywhere; even I have received them.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.