by Jayne Ozanne, Editor of ViaMedia.News
Do you believe in Spiritual Blindness? I must admit, I do.
I define it as something spiritual that happens to people, often because of something that has happened to them in their past, which then stops them seeing what everyone else can see plainly.
Sadly, you can’t rationalise with people when they are like this, it’s almost as if they’re wilfully blind to the truth.
We’ve seen a perfect example of this just this week with the Republican supporters of Judge Moore, who are blaming their fellow Republicans – rather than the conduct of their candidate – for the loss of one of the safest Republican seats in the Senate.
More broadly speaking, we see it at work in the US with the right-wing evangelical supporters of Trump – who believe that despite all the evidence to the contrary, their President is beyond reproach. They will therefore continue to support him at all cost, believing him to be God’s anointed man for the White House.
And we see it here in the UK when dealing with the issue of sexual abuse and power within the Church.
Perhaps most clearly, though, we see it in the harsh unloving treatment of the LGBTI community by so many self-styled conservative believers. Despite all the scientific and medical evidence, despite all the heart-wrenching testimonies (and sadly even suicides), despite all the biblical exegesis about our God being a God of Love, who welcomes and embraces all they stand resolute, defiant to the last.
I would like to believe you can talk and discuss things with everyone in the Church – but my personal experience has shown me that not all are seeking a dialogue, but rather an opportunity to “explain” to you why you are wrong and how “clear” the Bible is. Any alternative view is seen as mistaken at best, and sinful at worst.
I have been reflecting what the root cause is of this irrational blindness.
I believe it stems from a root of fear. A fear of a God of wrath, a God of anger and a God of judgement. A God who seems to have mislaid the Gospel of Love. It is Zeus with his thunderbolt, not Jesus with his open arms on the Cross.
This terror of God – a seed of an image of God planted often in youth, and watered through the years with the tears of unanswered prayers – is not a Godly fear. It is one that sadly reflects a lack of assurance of the unconditional love of Christ, who gave Himself willingly so that all may have life.
Lest we need reminding, this self-sacrifice was an act of love – indeed, it was the ultimate act of love. Conceived in love, born of love and lived out in love. To the very end.
If there is one thing I could shout from the rooftops, it is this – the cross is not a place of fear!
It is a place of awe and wonder of the Amazing Love that is lavished on us all, wretched sinners that we are.
I state this purposefully, words so familiar to so many of us, because I believe it is this foundational belief which seems to be where we actually really disagree.
It has been at the core of my own struggles, replacing a warped image of a God of wrath and anger with a true image of a God of LOVE. More than that, a God who loves us unconditionally.
As we are so often told, there is nothing that we can ever do that will ever make Him love us more (not even choosing to be celibate!). Similarly, there is absolutely nothing we can to make Him love us any less (even if we have committed the most heinous of crimes). That’s what unconditional means. It’s what Christ showed to us whilst hanging on the cross, and even then showing unconditional love to the man hanging next to him.
If I may, can I suggest you read that last paragraph again, and again, and again – until the enormity of it seeks in? It has taken me over 40 years to begin to grasp, and I’m still grappling with it on a daily basis.
How can I be so sure of this, of the love of God for me?
Because I know there is NO fear in love – as the Apostle John tells us (1 John 4:18). We so often quote the second half of this verse, that “perfect love casts out fear”, without understanding the first half.
But where there is fear, then sadly the devil can have a field day!
It is this fear that, when fully grown, can eventually stop us seeing things which are in plain sight.
For instance, it is fear that stops parents admitting that they know their children are gay, even though the evidence is right in front of their eyes from a very early age. It is this fear that stops us seeing the domestic abuse that is going on amongst our friends, even when we can plainly see the bruises – both physical and emotional.
It is this fear that stops us making certain decisions we know to be right as a Church for fear of the financial implications that they might reap, or the impact on our reputation – not that the latter can get much worse.
The only antidote to fear is of course LOVE.
Does this mean that we have to love those who are spiritually blind? Well, if we believe we are Christ’s agents of love on this earth, the answer has to be a resounding “Yes!”.
And we then have to trust that the Holy Spirit will do the rest.