Eyes and Ears That Don’t Work!
by Richard L. Burguet •
I have been to the hospital many more times these last few weeks than is typical. I have been to the Emergency Room, to the Medical Surgical floor, to the Cardiac floor, and to lots of places in-between. I have also visited a couple of rehabilitation centers in the last few weeks, too. It has been a busy week of medical needs, walking beside our congregation. It has been a hard week or so for the physical health of our people!
I was thinking more about the spiritual health of our congregation this week than our physical well-being as the days have gone by. In fact, about three weeks ago I skimmed through a book that I had read previously about spiritually healthy churches. All of the above, combined with the emphasis of Mark 7 and 8, brings my thoughts to this: spiritual deafness and blindness is the actual condition of our world. This deafness and blindness is actually a “symptom” of the reality, that without the enlivening work of the Holy Spirit, we are far worse off than the heart patients, or the cancer patients, or anyone else in any of the medical facilities I have visited recently. Spiritual deafness and blindness represent the fact that outside of a living faith in the costly grace of Jesus Christ, we are actually dead. Our world is filled with “dead men walking.”
Well then, if spiritual deafness and blindness are the condition of the world – and it is – then how do we break through that to communicate the gospel? Mark 7 describes Jesus looking up to heaven, groaning, and commanding in Aramaic that the deaf man’s ears be opened and tongue be freed. Maybe Jesus went through those “motions” in order for us to see that these miracles are not just something simple.
What would you do if you were summoned to the emergency room in the middle of the night because there was a young man with severe stomach pains who was Dari Persian (Iranian)? Not only that, but he was deaf as well, and had only been here in the United States a few days? He is in pain and looks frightened because he is unable to hear or understand what the doctors gathered around him are asking and saying. It would be painful not to be able to talk with him, wouldn’t it? Even if someone arrived who spoke Dari Persian, the situation would not be improved because of his deafness. I suspect that you and the physicians would have to resort to some kind of primitive sign language to act out what is wrong, and what the doctors were planning to do.
Isn’t “acting out” the gospel to a world that is deaf and blind – really actually dead – exactly what the church is called to do? We need to act out the message of the good news for those who cannot see or understand in a language that is universally understood. We do that “acting out” by means of deeds of lovingkindness. We, as those who once were blind, and once were deaf, and once were unable to speak, must love as Jesus loved. Maybe we even need to touch those who we might consider “ritually unclean,” just as freely and graciously as Jesus did.
But there is something else in these verses of Mark 7 and 8 that we need to recognize. It is the truth that spiritual blindness and deafness, and even being mute applies to the people of God as well. We, who have turned to Jesus in faith, still do not always open our ears to God. We may only hear muffled vibrations (like the bass of that car with the huge stereo at the stop light), we might speak in inarticulate grunts, we may even only see men that “look like trees walking.” If you read Mark 7 and 8 carefully you will notice that Jesus cured the disciples deafness and inability to see and speak by pulling them aside from the crowds and teaching them. You need that kind of time, too. Time alone with Jesus, to let Him put his fingers in your ears, to spit and touch your tongue, and to lay his hands on your eyes. We all need one-on-one time with our Savior so that we can see what God is doing in our lives, hear his word afresh, and speak to others more clearly.