In the Gospel of John, the 9th Chapter, the disciples of Jesus get into a rather frumpy, cheesy, theological mood and approach Jesus with a question.
They had come upon a gentleman who was blind from birth, and they officiously asked the Master whether this happened to him due to his own sin, or the sin of his parents?
Keep in mind–these are the same fellows who had seen water turned into wine, five thousand folks fed with five loaves and two fishes, demons cast out and the dead raised. Yet when it comes to discussing the nature, tenderness, mind-set and intellect of God, they revert back to their small-village, Sunday School mentality.
They made two errors:
First, they contended that God punishes people for their sins. Nothing could be further from the truth. And Jesus made it clear–good things happen to good people and bad people, and bad things happen to everyone equally. (Otherwise, there would be great impetus to be good instead of bad, just to garner the material blessing.)
The second mistake was that they believed that people were “born a certain way.” Obviously, this notion permeates our society as well. We are convinced people are born athletes, born musicians, born leaders, born dexterous…shall I go on? We take comfort in the assertion because it gives us all an excuse for not taking the abilities we see in ourselves and multiplying them to make our lives more abundant.
These two completely errant ideas were put forth by these Galileans two thousand years ago–ideas which are still an intricate part of the doctrinal DNA of the average Christian.
- “Don’t sin or God will punish you.”
- And “you are destined to be something by birth.”
I think it is important to note Jesus’ response. He completely dismisses both possibilities. He makes it clear that God doesn’t punish people for their sins–and especially not for the sins of their parents. And he also says that destiny is a myth because free will is extolled throughout the Universe as the “go-to plan.”
You can’t have both free will and destiny. They do not co-habitate. Even though you may have a certain genetic makeup, it does not overtake you and turn you into something you do not choose to be.
It is also why the Bible makes it clear that part of the salvation experience is to be “born again”–becoming a new creature in Christ.
Jesus said that God was not punishing anyone, and that the man was not born blind. He said that blindness was in his life so that God could be made manifest through him in a unique way.
There’s nothing wrong with taking what seems to be a weakness and turning it into a strength so that God might receive glory. This blind man is not complaining; he is not joining into the theological discussion about his plight. Matter of fact, he’s not even begging to be healed.
He has found a place in his place to make a place for every place he goes.
That’s our job.
I was dealt a certain hand and so were you. Now, through the blessing of free will, I have the ability to turn those circumstances to the positive instead of internalizing them to complain about my pain.
It is troubling that we still have a church that believes if bad things happen to people, the people must be bad–and that we live in a society which insists we were all “born” with a certain destiny.
God gave us free will. We can deny it and wait for Him to plan our lives, only to discover that He doesn’t do that, and our time on Earth has slipped away.
Or we can take a look at what we have–an inventory, if you will–and see what great things we can accomplish–simply by stepping forward instead of backward.