Whose sin caused this person's suffering
When we experience pain and loss, we often, maybe even always, want to know “why”. It is our nature. We often think, if we could just understand the “why”, then our pain would diminish. Let me suggest there is a “why”, but it will not diminish your pain.
When do you first remember experiencing pain, and asking why? I remember. I was 16. A terrible family tragedy. It didn’t make sense. I asked “Why?” I was Angry.
Our desire to know “why” underlies this question of “whose sin caused this…” In John chapter 9 this belief, the belief that a specific Sin was the cause of blindness, is front and center. The only thing left to find out is who is directly responsible. Because this fella is blind from birth, the options are either his parents, or somehow him in the womb.
This concept, that somehow our mistakes, our sins, are at the root of our troubles permeates the cultures of the world.
Is this way of thinking Biblical?
You might say, “Yes.” After all we are reading the Bible and here are the religious of Jesus day applying this exact “principle”.
The Bible does lay out a general principle between suffering and sin, due to the fall. Genesis 3 and Romans 5 outline this idea. However, it refuses to apply this general principle to every single case.
Sin has produced suffering, and death, in our world. An individual’s suffering may be the result of individual sin. The most obvious these days are sins where someone is hurt because another person is driving while intoxicated, or consider how a marriage fails because of infidelity. Here is what the Bible does NOT do – it does not draw a straight line in every case. Don’t believe me. The Bible has an entire book on it. The book of Job. That kind of thinking is just too simplistic.
This simplistic thinking exists across our world today. Hinduism is a case and point. I am amazed that people today throw around the words karma and dharma the way we used to say cool/groovy.
Karma/dharma are not cool, they are brutal.
Karma/dharma is the idea that you are responsible for all the good and bad stuff you do. Do bad stuff—then you have to do good stuff to make up for it. There is no mercy from God. There is no grace from God. In fact your karma/dharma follows you from one life to the next. In this system the answer to the question: “Why was this man born blind” is because in a prior life he did something that deserves this punishment. This way of thinking also applies to the person who was raped and ended up with AIDS — it is their fault from a prior life.
This is directly against the Bible. The Bible teaches that each person is fearfully and wonderfully made, made in the image of God. Each is responsible for his or her life and will give an accounting before God. Jesus’ urgency, our urgency, is because we simply have one life. Time is short. We are preparing for eternity. The message of Jesus is that God is calling his family home. He is inviting us to say, “Yes, Father I want to be your son, your daughter.”
When we come the realization that there is a God, a good and loving God, then we also come to the realization of our sin. The Good News is that God is ready to forgive, we need merely to admit we sinned and ask for forgiveness. We need to say sorry.
Thanks be to God that grace abounds in Jesus Christ.
We have allowed some of this thinking to more than creep into Christianity. I am involved in Healing Ministry. There are times when a person who is “sick” needs to repent of their sin, or their unbelief, etc. But we must resist making in a universal rule. I have had many experiences where the root of anger, the root of unforgiveness, etc. has required repentance.
When this happens, the person is freed and healed from so many ailments. I have also prayed with people, who have confessed and confessed, thinking they have failed to identify the one sin that is keeping them from being cured. Ugh. God knows their hearts, He is at work in their bodies, and He loves them. This is the healing they need to receive.
All of this is why I think Jesus simply says the cause of the blindness is so that God may be glorified. It seems cryptic. It needs to be, or we would make a rule out of it.
Finally, the greatest healing anyone can ever experience is to have their brokenness between themselves and God healed. How? By believing in Jesus. You may be rolling your eyes, “Of course the religious guy is saying this, but he doesn’t have cancer, or parkinson’s, or ________.”
If you have a serious illness, I am sorry, really. But can I just ask you to search all the times Jesus healed some one, and look at what happens. What happens is people believe in Jesus. Yes Jesus heals people out of compassion. The purpose however is to let people know that He is the Way, the Truth, and The Life.