There is a story in the gospel about Jesus walking along with His disciples and they see a man begging who was born blind. The disciples ask Jesus, “Whose fault is it — this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus says it’s not anyone’s “fault” but rather the man is born blind for the glory of God. And I’m like, “What?!”
The man is blind for the glory of God.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years looking for blame. Not about blindness per se but about a lot of injustices — a lot of systemic, genetic, problematic issues that someone needs to take responsibility for. I usually blame the “authorities,” then culture, then the government, then the communities, then the church, then the men, eventually, I even get to looking in the mirror. And to be honest, there is a lot of blame to go around. In a sense, in every injustice on the planet, every person has some piece of culpability.
Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out over 50 years ago that by the time I’ve finished eating breakfast I would have participated in the oppression of several people around the globe. The food industry, the commodification of human beings, the commercialization of sex, the modern slave trade, the children who work in mines and rock quarries, the women picking cotton in Bangladesh … well, I could go on. I’ve sat in boardrooms and mayoral task forces and government inquiries and global platforms looking and asking for the blame. Whose fault is it?
That’s just the external conversation. The internal one rages as well. My tendencies towards self-sufficiency and addiction for example? Genetic? Nurture or nature? Geography? People with faces and names or those without any who make up a culture that forced me into shapes and systems and patterns? From biting my nails to hating my body to emotional immaturity to hiding any sign of weakness that might be construed in this world as a blameworthy culpable need. Who. Is. To. Blame?
THE BLAME GAME IS A TRAP. IT’S A NEVER-ENDING CYCLE OF FINGER-POINTING AND NARCISSISM.
Then I read this story and hear Jesus afresh and realize I’m asking the wrong questions. The blame game is a trap. It’s a never ending cycle of finger-pointing and narcissism, as my world begins to collapse in on itself — like around the rosy circle where we all fall down at the end, except it isn’t any fun. It’s a constant state of “if only” and “what if” and “how come” and neglects to answer the REAL question that might actually make any difference in the world:
This man is born blind for the glory of God to be revealed. In other words. This situation or circumstance is not about fault and will not be changed by hunting for blame. This situation and circumstance, no matter what it is — blindness, insecurity, fear, anxiety, abuse, addiction, injustice, even toxic relationships — is for the glory of God to be revealed. Which means I need to change my questions.
What about this situation or circumstances is an opportunity for God to reveal His glory?
You see how this question changes everything? It makes the conversation a lot richer and a lot deeper and a little harder, because it will involve me being a part of revealing God to the world and not in some amazing show of strength but through my glaring weaknesses. Imagine that.
Paul gets it because much later on after Jesus did His best to demonstrate how the glory of God is revealed through absolutely EVERY encounter you can imagine — and even some you couldn’t have possible dreamed up but have lived to see — the apostle Paul tells the Corinthian church that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
That is impossible to understand or comprehend if you are still asking the wrong questions. Like, whose fault your weakness is? But if you change the question, you might just stumble into some truth that will take even your deepest pain and make it a revelation of His strength. How is this situation an opportunity for God to show up?
Maybe we were all born blind for the glory of God.