weakness in community

I was with a group last night, corporately doing some training.  We were studying Mark 8:22-33, the incredible text in the gospel of Mark where Mark literarily (not literALLY) uses the blind man at Bethsaida as a living parable of Christ’s disciples.  In the text, Mark tells of the blind man’s 2 stage healing.  Jesus first touched his eyes, only for him to see ‘trees walking around like people.’  (How did he know what trees looked like?!)  Jesus touched his eyes again, and his 20/20 vision set in.  Why 2 stages (the only 2-stage miracle of Christ)?  Because the literary parallel is in the immediate context: the disciples.  We would think that they would be seeing straight by this point – but they are going through their own ‘stages’ of progression out of spiritual blindness.  Just before the story of the blind man, Jesus had played his version of 20 questions with his boys (only 7 Qs) to emphasize that they don’t see as well as they think they do.  The little game culminated in: “Do you not yet understand?”(8:21)  Their vision was blurry – not unlike the man who saw ‘trees walking around like people.’  Of course, just like the progressive miracle of sight restoration, so Peter in 8:29 progresses out of his blur to glimpse Christ with clarity.  Who do you say that I am?  You are THE Christ!  Throughout Mark, the denseness and blurred vision of the disciples is frustrating (or it makes us proud, thinking we could do that much better), but in an instant by grace Peter saw Christ for who he was (‘flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven’-Matt. 16:17).  Of course, Peter’s clear vision of Christ immediately gave way to what he wanted to see of Christ (he didn’t want to see Christ suffer and die – so he rebuked him).  And there we have it… the ebb and flow of spiritual blurriness among God’s people.  Like Peter, by grace we see Christ, then we see him the way we want to see him (blur).  Or, by grace we see our world according to his Word, then we see our world according to our flesh (blur)…

Anyway, the text got us talking and then got me thinking.  We talked about how imperative it is for us to discuss our blurred spiritual vision in community.  Because on our own, we assume clarity of vision.  I can’t know what I don’t quite see (because I think I KNOW what I see – of God in his Word, of myself in his Word, of my culture in his Word) apart from community.  I need others to check my spiritual prescription.  Because what I think I see may not be what is really there to be seen.  (AND no, I am not implying that we postmodernize the gospel to the point that whatever each community corporately sees is necessarily the truth to be seen.  The truth has been objectively provided for us by God in his Word – but that objective truth has been provided for his community, not just his individuals!)

OK, so here is the link to weakness.  I can’t accurately see or understand my weaknesses in the flesh apart from community.  Because I may see it, but I can only see it from my angle (which for me is usually a very self-defensive angle).  OR, I may see it and not know what to do with it (i.e. how to find Christ and his gospel in it).  OR, I might refuse to see it (i.e. I think something is my ‘strength’ when I need others to show me it is a glaring fault of prideful weakness).  I need community because I have blurry vision about my own weaknesses which leads to blurry vision about the gospel!  I need to be weak in view of others, so that they can (GENTLY) use God’s Word to help me diagnose my idols and deficiencies and poor Christ-sight, and then prescribe the gospel with particularity! 

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One thought on “weakness in community

  1. Carey says:

    I love your last BOLD statement… why do we think that we call our “blind-spots” blind-spots? Because we CAN’T SEE THEM! That’s what community in the church is supposed to be all about!

    My belief – the church is not what it’s supposed to be, in large part, because our “don’t offend me” culture has become so afraid of this part of community…

    Press on with this topic – it’s worthy of much discussion and action!

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