Asking the wrong questions?

In her book, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Ruth Haley Barton (who blogs here) asks whether we are asking the right kind of questions when it comes to pursuing God’s will.

There’s no doubt that when we are making decisions, waiting on the Lord for his leading is something that all Christians I know recognise as both desirable and essential. But are we sometime stuck asking the old kinds of questions?

She points to the story of Jesus’ miraculous healing in John 9 as a clear case in point: here, the disciples and Jesus come across a man blind since birth. The disciples see this both this man and an opportunity for some theological learning – ‘who sinned?’ they ask. ‘This man or his parents?’

Jesus’ response must strike us as astonishing – ‘It was not this man who sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.’

We might not see quite how radical Jesus’ response is… as Barton points out, Jesus is telling his disciples that they’re asking the wrong question! It’s not about who sinned, it’s about what God is doing in this situation.

One consequence of sin that we’re not always so comfortable acknowledging is our propensity to blame when we see things that we know are wrong – in the instance in John 9, the disciples know that blindness is not part of the Kingdom of God, but they want to establish blame (is it the man or the parents?) more than they want to know what God’s going to do about it. Theology that does not bend toward reflecting the love, mercy, grace and compassion shown in Jesus is missing it’s soul.

Jesus has come to bring in the Kingdom of God – and I find myself all too quickly asking whose to blame, just like the disciples. My prayer needs to change – I need to ask what God is doing through his Spirit in the midst of situations of brokenness and pain and sorrow and sin. In Jesus he’s won the decisive victory and has promised that all will be made new.

May I have eyes to see and ears to hear.

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