Monday, April 21, 2014

What Do You Want Me To Do for You? (Mark 10:46-52)

This story seems straight forward enough. Just another example of Jesus demonstrating His power. Just another case of Jesus healing someone; another blind man’s sight restored. Another demonstration of faith—trust—making someone whole. (This is the fourth story where someone’s faith has led to their wholeness. See here and here)

However, it must not be that plainly visible for all.

A lot of people “of faith” read this story and others like it in a very different light. They see God as some sort of cosmic vending machine where faith is a magical currency. If your faith is strong enough—if it is a valid form of faith/currency—then you will receive whatever you need. Health, wealth and the American dream. What do you want me to do for you? To this form of Christian, Jesus is there to meet their needs, to fulfill their dreams, to give them their best life now. It is all about them.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus does ask Bartimaeus the question, but it is not something He asks awaiting an order. In the last question Jesus asked the very same question, word for word, of James and John. In that case He did not fulfill their wish, but taught them what they really needed, and how they were asking for the wrong thing. Here, Bartimaeus asks for something he really does need: vision.

Bartimaeus was not healed to fulfill his dreams, to resume the life he could have had had he only been able to see. He was saved to a life he never knew was possible. He was saved to fulfill he purpose. He truly recovered his sight. In his new enlightened life he follows Jesus. He receives more than physical sight, he now sees what is truly important. It is not about him, but about Jesus.

What questions are we asking of people, if any? Too many Christians go through life knowing exactly what everyone needs, and telling them exactly how they should live their lives. At our best moments, we impart the best we have to offer in the form of four oversimplified selling points. The problem is, we don’t know the people we are “helping.” We don’t know the individual needs people are feeling that the real Gospel could address. We don’t bother to find people who are looking, we dump a simplified—often falsified—version of Jesus’ story on everyone. Maybe we ought to start our efforts to help people—to share our wonderful news—with a question or two.

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