“As (Jesus) went along, he saw a man blind from birth… (Jesus) 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.” (John 9:1,6,7).
Think of it, if you can—this man had never seen a sunset, never watched children playing, never watched a spring rain pelt a dusty pathway, never noticed the twinkle of affection dancing in the eyes of someone he loved.
He’d lived his entire life up until this day by imagination. Smells informed him, true—along with sounds, emotions, and textures. But every single mental image in his brain had been painted entirely by guesswork, filling in a million gaps in a million theories about the world around him.
After washing the spit and mud from his eyes, he came home seeing.
Realizing, “Oh cool, that’s what a tree looks like. I guess I had it wrong. And oh my. Women sure are beautiful. And the sky… wow. Blue is so much more amazing than I thought it would be. And… yuck. Not sure I wanted to know what colour camel dung really is.”
And realizing. And realizing. And realizing—over and over again—that everything he’d imagined, every last detail of the world he’d created in his mind was at least partly wrong.
To see the world as it really is, he had to unlearn everything he thought he knew.
But he’s not the only one to be born blind. We were all born into sin that warps our minds and hearts so thoroughly that Jesus says, “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” (Matthew 13:13,14).
We all live by imagination to some degree. We see some things, true—and then fill in the gaps with theories and incomplete knowledge, forming world views and attitudes based on half-truths or worse. We all need the healing touch of Jesus Christ.
But to see, to really see, we must admit what we thought we knew was wrong. We need to celebrate the truths that free us, recognizing that unlearning is a prerequisite to learning. We have to admit, as hard as it may be, that we were born blind. That we see some things, but not most things. That every day is an opportunity to see the world a little more clearly and follow Jesus more nearly.
And that Christ doesn’t replace imagination with fact, but ignites it in the service of faith.
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