Blind to the Good
Mark 10:46-52 “Blind to the Good” 10-24-21
[Prayer] “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, O’Lord my rock and redeemer” (Psalm 19:4).
By a show of hands how many of y’all have heard of Eric Clapton? (pause) Many of you may know Eric Clapton for his incredible talent with a guitar and for his drinking and drug addiction. Eric Clapton has had tons of inappropriate relationships with women. His marriage fell apart. One of the women Eric had an affair with became pregnant. When that child was born Eric Clapton went to rehab for the second time. This is what Eric Clapton wrote in his autobiography about that experience.
“At that moment, almost of their own accord, my legs gave way and I fell to my knees. In the privacy of my room I begged for help. I had no notion of who I thought I was talking to, I just knew that I had come to the end of my tether, I had nothing left to fight with. Then I remembered what I had heard about surrender, something I thought I could never do, my pride just wouldn’t allow it, but I knew that on my own I wasn’t going to make it, so I asked for help, and, getting down on my knees, I surrendered.
Within a few days I realized that something had happened for me. An atheist would probably say it was just a change of attitude, and to a certain extent that’s true, but there was much more to it than that. I had found a place to turn to, a place I’d always know was there but never really wanted, or needed, to believe in. From that day until this, I have never failed to pray in the morning, on my knees, asking for help, and at night, to express gratitude for my life and, most of all, for my sobriety. I choose to kneel because I feel I need to humble myself when I pray, and with my ego this is the most I can do.
If you are asking why I do all this, I will tell you… because it works, as simple as that. In all this time that I’ve been sober, I have never once seriously thought of taking a drink or a drug. I have no problem with religion, and I grew up with a strong curiosity about spiritual matters, but my searching took me away from church and community worship to the internal journey. Before my recovery began, I found my God in music and the arts, with writers like Hermann Hesse, and musicians like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter. In some way, in some form, my God was always there, but now I have learned to talk to him.”
In a way Eric Clapton is very much like Bartimaeus from our Scripture this morning. Eric Clapton was blinded by his lusts and addictions and by his own words, his pride. Eric Clapton had heard God in music and the arts, but he did not have a relationship with God.
In our Scripture this morning Bartimaeus was physically blind. In the first century there was no social welfare. There was no support for the handicapped. If you were not able to work you were left scrapping for food as a beggar. Bartimaeus was blind - he could not see and was therefore unable to work. In desperation Bartimaeus had to beg for money, and rely on the pity of strangers to eat and survive. Bartimaeus heard Jesus walking by and began to shout, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.
At first the crowd is blind to what is going on. Why is this beggar shouting for Jesus? It’s annoying. Surely, this is not the way a person should speak to the Christ. The crowd was blinded by their assumptions about the place of a beggar, and the social position of the Christ. They told blind Bartimaeus to be quiet. Hush! Nobody wants to hear you shouting like that. Instead of shutting up, Bartimaeus yelled even louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped walking. Jesus turned to His disciples and said, “Call him.” The disciples did as they were told. The blind man threw off his cloak and took off running as best he could toward Jesus. Jesus asked him, “‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” (v. 51)? Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well” (v 52). Suddenly Bartimaeus’ sight returned and followed Jesus along the way.
When Eric Clapton fell to his knees in rehab the things that had made him blind to the love of God left him. As of the writing of his autobiography Eric Clapton prays every morning and as a result he has not had a serious thought about taking drugs or drinking alcohol since. When asked why, he says, “because it works.” Many of you know the problems people face who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, pornogrophy and even food, snf cafine. It isn’t hard to see their struggle. So I hope it is just as easy to see how the power of prayer and responding to God’s grace can heal our blindness.
Now you may be thinking, I’m not blind. I can see just fine. To which I have to ask. How well do you really see? When I look out into this room I see a lot of space. I see a lot of empty pews. I see a lot of opportunities for people who don’t already have a church home to find a wonderful church home here at ___________________ UMC. Take a look around this room. Take a look up in the choir loft. We have opportunities in the choir loft. What is keeping us from taking advantage of those opportunities? Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Looking around this room it can certainly seem that way. So, we’ve really got one option. It’s time to pray. It’s time to pray to God that our eyes would be opened and we would see the opportunities that surround us to collect the harvest. Here are a couple of ideas to get us started.
Opportunity #1. Did you know that thanks to Covid-19 Davidson County schools have an enormous need for substitute teachers. What would it look like to connect with kids and their families by offering to be a substitute one day a week?
Opportunity #2 Sports fields. What would it look like at the start of the next sports season if two or three of you picked one team. Just one team and decided we are going to follow this team around. The YMCA plays games in Finch Park. South Davidson Youth Sports is hosting soccer games October 30 and the start of the tournament is October 31st. All we have to do is decide we are going to make new friends. We are going to support the team. Maybe we offer to bring snacks for the team after the game. About half way through the season we gently invite people to a function at church - like the fall yard sale, or a poor man’s supper. Maybe we invite them to help. Then we invite them to church. It’s a crazy idea, but the truth is people spend the bulk of their time in one of three places, work, home and their third place.
Opportunity #3 Do you know where the third places are in this area? Where are those places people go when they are not at home, or at work? (pause) Don’t know? (pause) It’s time to find out. It’s time to take off the blinders to all that could do us the most good and look for new opportunities to share the love of Christ with others. Eric Clapton had to hit rock bottom before he fell to his knees. Let’s not wait until we’re staring church closure in face before we pray to God for the courage to open our eyes and look for new ways to reach people for Jesus Christ.
In the name of Jesus Christ,