I Samuel 16: 6,7; John 9: 30,32
Keeping the Faith 4: Be receptive
Friends, Dutch people have an expression which I am sure I have shared with you before:”What the farmer doesn’t know, he doesn’t eat.” It’s all about being receptive to new foods and new experiences and new ways of seeing.
We continue with our series of reflections on Keeping the Faith, especially when Christians like ourselves disappoint us. The first Sunday we concluded that if we let ourselves be disappointed in others, we must begin by not wearing rose colored glasses when it comes to ourselves. We must be truthful about ourselves and our own flaws. Next we learned that it is important to understand that the world does not revolve around us, that it does not exist to make us happy only. Last week I emphasized the importance of genuine conversations, because in fake encounters nothing spiritual can happen. In other words it is hard for God to be present there. Today we talk about being receptive, about opening ourselves to new wisdom and insight wherever we may find and it that way rediscover our contribution to the world around us. (compare Bob Burg and John David Mann’s “law of receptivity” in their book “the Go-Giver”).
Friends, in our Old Testament text Samuel has an experience he never expected he would and it pushes him toward actions he did not anticipate. He goes and finds a king and he thinks he knows which son of Jesse this will be, but he and all the people there get it completely wrong. God gets him going where he did not expect to go, because it is God who spins him around. The people there are not receptive to what God has for them. In the Gospel of John Jesus heals a blind man in an unusual way, using spit and mud. After being healed he is peppered with questions about this Man Who has healed him. The blind man is new to sight and of course he never saw Jesus before he was healed. . Jesus then uses this whole event to talk about sight and blindness in a metaphoric way, the same way He spoke about water last week. He goes into an explanation of how those who cannot see can have sight and those who do have sight can be blind. While the Pharisee want to question His validity, Jesus turns the whole discussion upside down. In the process their eyes are opened and they have a chance to learn about faith. Ironically it is the man who has had no any sight who sees who Jesus really is.
About ten years or so ago Jack Nicholson starred in two movies with similar very general titles. One was “As Good as it Gets” and the second was “Something’s Gotta Give.” In the first he is a rude, obsessive compulsive writer with money who befriends a waitress with a son with medical problems. He says the most upsetting things to people, but he is actually a very generous person. The movie is about him opening up to the world around him. It is the waitress played by Helen Hunt who makes him want to be a better man. She is the one who makes him receptive to other opportunities in his life. In the other movie he is still kind of a scoundrel (Nicholson tends to play rather unlikeable men). He is a rap music producer who dates, surprise-surprise, much younger women. One of the women takes him home to her mother’s house where he becomes ill. Let’s just say that he is not open to women his age like the mother of the girlfriend but that he becomes more and more receptive.
Friends, as long at it makes us better and wiser, kinder and more compassionate. There is goodness in allowing ourselves to be baffled and puzzled and stunned, if it leads to new ways of seeing. . Jesus knew what He was doing. He knew He was confusing the people around Him, but He had a purpose with that. He knew people had to be disoriented sometimes to reorient themselves toward God. So, friends, allow yourself to get spun around once in a while may God give you direction. We have to be receptive. We have to allow ourselves to see what we don’t expect to see. We are not wired for that. We have these preconceived notions about how because of our age or gender or ethnicity or level of education there are certain things we can contribute to people around us. But you’d be surprised how often we make an impact where we least expect it, doing or saying something that we are not even an expert at.
Friends, just because people we know or don’t know very well or don’t know at all do not behave according to their faith, this is no reflection on God. God’s Holy Spirit is still at work. God ‘s race continues. It’s like a friendly river. It doesn’t go through obstacles usually and fortunately, but it goes around, makes new paths. The river eventually makes its way to the sea. Friends, go with the “flow.” Be receptive to new ways of being a vehicle of God’s grave. May God give us wisdom.