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Monday, September 21, 2009

Seeing the tables and chairs

A few verses in Proverbs, chapter 3, seem to offer an interesting insight into how certain people view the world, and sin in particular. They read as follows:

       "But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble."

Only the cruelest, most adolescent among us would find humor in a blind person trying to negotiate a living room without benefit of cane or directions. So why are we surprised when the spiritually blind among us trip over or break things? If anything, we should be more surprised, more dismayed, and even more baffled when the spiritually sighted trip over something that they can actually see. That, to me, seems to be the essence of grace and the promise of sanctification: not that we will never stumble or break things, but that, as the light gets brighter, we will recognize more and more what we must avoid.

In a letter entitled 1st John, the author says, in verses 6-8 of the first chapter, "If we say we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us."

So for those among us who are spiritually sighted, the challenge is not to save the china or avoid the cat's tail--it is to have our "eyes" open enough that, at best, we avoid some obstacles, and, in general, confess our "clumsiness" (sin) when we stumble.

But there is more to sight than that. While we may see the obstacles, we may also see something else the blind cannot see: the table, set for a feast, and the feast-giver Himself, holding an outstretched hand to an empty chair.


Feast of Simon the Pharisee by Peter Paul Rubens,oil on canvas, ca. 1618, 
189×254.5 cm, Ermitage, Sankt Petersburg. Click to enlarge.

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