I love this man born blind, the man whose story is found in the ninth chapter of John. One miracle moved him from broken street beggar to bold preacher of the truth.
I would like to know his name, but I suppose God has kept that from us for a reason. In some ways, he is Everyman, even though few of us have been born physically blind.
As remarkable as the restoration of his sight seems, the immediate transformation of the healed man’s spirit impresses me more. I don’t expect that life as a beggar had generated a lot of self-confidence.
As the story proceeds, however, we see how he repeatedly proved himself bold because of the miracle he had experienced. He testified to his healing. He even taunted Jewish religious leaders, who feared Jesus’ growing popularity and criticized the miracle.
Having lived in darkness for so long, this new disciple of Christ wanted to stay in the light, avoiding the shadows where the more politically cunning tried to stand.
Do those of you who are Christians remember that moment when you first saw the light, when you fully understood the pivotal role Jesus plays as savior of all creation? Did you experience a sudden boldness? Did that assertiveness replace a muttering shyness about all things religious?
Such a dramatic change in attitude is common for new Christians. Finding a way to hold on to that boldness is not so common, however. Some we would count among the churchgoers have an unfortunate habit of wanting to stand in the shadows like the Pharisees, thinking just a little light will be enough.
John Wesley called such people “Almost Christians,” having a religious look and sound to them but accomplishing little for the kingdom—Christian on the outside, but still deeply dark within. The distinguishing factor between these people and “Altogether Christians,” he said, was a visible love for God and neighbors.
The man healed from blindness immediately began to live as an Altogether Christian. He was bold in declaring Jesus’ presence in this world, worshiping Jesus to show love. He also showed love to his neighbors by being unashamed of Jesus in the face of criticism or worse.
How can we not boldly declare life-giving truth to people we love? We are filled by Christ’s light, even transformed into light, and we are empowered to carry light into the darkness where so many suffer.