26Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” 28Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” 30The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
Moses v. Jesus. The world v. God. That’s what it amounts to doesn’t it? Can it be any other way? No. Sadly it cannot be any other way. These folks that the formerly blind man spoke with that day said: ‘You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses!’ Later on, in this same Gospel, they would say this: ‘We have no king but Caesar.’ There is essentially nothing different in these two statements. This is the point I have been trying to make to one of my friends, an atheist, who has visited here. He says that, I’m paraphrasing here, that he serves no god because he doesn’t believe in God. I have tried to point out to him that he is serving a god he just doesn’t acknowledge that he, himself, is the god he’s serving.
Jesus said, ‘No one can serve two masters. He will hate the one and love the other or love one and hate the other.’ Now Jesus was specifically referring to God and mammon, but there is nothing to say this doesn’t apply to God v. anything else. The Apostle James said in his short letter, ‘You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think the Scripture says without reason that the spirit he cause to live in us envies intensely.’
So what are we to do? Should we seek balance? Should we despise this life? Should we be repulsed by everything we see? Is it really ‘us versus them’? Paul said it to: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. And God has said, ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16, NIV)
But they also said it in the Old Testament, “Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua (Joshua 24) makes it quite plane that everyone will serve someone. We will either serve the gods we create or the God who created us. But it is impossible for it to be both ways.
Now here’s what I’d like to say about this, if only briefly. Too many churches are trying to serve both. I noted yesterday a church that has bought an amusement park. I know a church that bought a golf course. There are other churches doing all such similar things. When church does such things, what are we teaching Christians to do? What are we saying to the world about the manner in which we want to live? What are we saying to the world about what we think of the Biblical charge to not live like the world? But what I think is this: Christians are too busy setting up shop here on earth. I think the church is far too busy setting up a residence here, getting comfortable here, making this the place where all of our bliss is derived from: Meanwhile, the Son of Man lived the life of a transient, a passer-through, a pilgrim, a stranger, and an alien.
For some time I have, as a preacher, lived in a church parsonage. There are a lot of advantages, and some disadvantages. My wife and I have given serious consideration to buying a house because, as life advances, the church parsonage is becoming a thing outdated and impractical. Then I got to thinking about it one day. It’s not just the church ‘giving’ me a place to live ‘free of charge’ (there are still social security taxes associated with parsonage living!). Instead, it is a sort of parable to the congregation and the world. It’s a ways of saying, ‘I’m not getting to friendly with this world, I’m not getting too attached.’ It’s a parabolic way of saying to the people of the church, and the community where I live: ‘I’m looking forward to a home not built with human hands.’ It’s a way of living that emulates Abraham, “By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city, with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10, NIV).
And also, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16 NIV).
It’s a way of avoiding the sort of friendship with the world that involves making any permanent connection with the world. When it’s time to go, I have no attachments.
My question is this: Why befriend the world? Why cozy up to it? Is it so that we can gain something that the world has to offer? Is it to prevent ourselves from ‘getting tossed’? Is it to maintain some sort of standing before the world in the hopes that the world might be our friend? At the end of this round of questioning, the man, the same one who had blistered these smart ‘disciples of Moses’ with his quick wit, gets himself thrown out of their presence, and, presumably, the synagogue. His parents had faired much better. But this guy, this one who has still, in the narrative, yet to see Jesus, stood his ground and saw something much better than mere membership in club synagogue. He saw Jesus and he was content to wait on Jesus. “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed,” (John 20:9).
Whose friend are you?
Soli Deo Gloria!