Thursday, November 11, 2010

Powers of the Air

John 9:1-7 (NIV)
As Jesus went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

Fundamentalist, right-wing Christianity currently falls into the trap of asking, "Who sinned, this man or his parents? Why is he sick? Is the pre-existing condition his fault or his parents' fault? And if so, why should we have to suffer for others' wrongdoing?"

Jesus answered, "Don't worry about such questions. I make the healing and I revel in the healing." And then he healed the man.

Peter and his cohorts were thinking according to the rules of Blame-Game Theology - the same limited thinking that Job's friends used to justified his severe sufferings. However, over the course of the next few years, they came to slowly change their way of thinking and were soon healing the blind, mute, deaf, disabled without equivocation.

My people (evangelicals and fundamentalist Christians) are blinded and deceived by the powers of the air into believing that it's generally the fault of the victim that she is worse off than they are. It's not a Christ-trait. It's a human trait, a broken human trait. One in which we find ourselves so broken that we need to sabotage others just to feel better about our brokenness.

And even if they don't necessarily ascribe to the BGT (few that I know would cop to believing that), they believe that sin is individual and that everything needs to be focused on the individual or the family. Any good is done through individual charity, not structural change, according to this philosophy.

Which is very convenient for the powers that be. If we don't call the structures (the nations, the powers of the air) in to question, but rest all of the blame on the individual and his family, then there is no accountability for those who are directly responsible for the sickness. If the gambler alone is blamed for his failures to break free of his addiction, society doesn't need to quit making a profit from his addiction.

I wonder, however, if the writer of that gospel account didn't have this prophetic account in mind when :

Zephaniah 1:17
I will bring such distress on all people
that they will grope about like those who are blind,
because they have sinned against the LORD.

The question I'm asking is, How did they sin against the Lord? Was it through tripping old ladies? Was it through sexual deviancy? Was it by not paying their taxes? Were they playing with witchcraft? Did they sacrifice kitties?

Truth be told, it might have been any of those, but that's not what the passage hints toward.

verse 13:
Their wealth will be plundered,
their houses demolished.
Though they build houses,
they will not live in them;
though they plant vineyards,
they will not drink the wine.

and 18:
Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them
on the day of the LORD’s wrath.
They relied on their abundant wealth. But it did not save them. They are blind to the needs of those around them, and so God will complete the picture.

Or they can choose to wash in the waters of the Pool of Shalom.

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