When entering my study each morning I am surrounded by my library friends, friends who have instructed me through the books they have written. How grateful I am for what they have taught me and for the encouragement and hope they have given me in my struggles to be. But, this morning I realized that this is all secondhand stuff. An old saying runs through my mind, “Seeing is believing.” To be sure it is, but the reverse is not true. Believing is not necessarily seeing. For example, I was told by my brother that the Rainbow Bridge was an unforgettable sight and I believed him. Then I saw it for myself, firsthand, and became convinced. Believing is a substitute for seeing, a mere acceptance of what someone else reports they have seen or experienced.
How many of my beliefs are inherited beliefs and how many of my opinions are inherited opinions? Have I passively accepted these beliefs and made them my own? Are they simply hand-me-downs? Is my Christian faith simply a secondhand faith? Are my opinions really my own or are they secondhand—handed down to me by others? I believe I am a free thinker, but am I?
I read the parable of the man born blind in John’s Gospel this morning. Jesus heals the blind man. Don’t get hung-up in the miracle—John is dealing with the spiritual side of it and suggesting that such a thing is reproducible in us. John portrays a man born blind who at last can see, and who at that point stands his ground against all challenges. Even when the religious leaders argue with him, threaten him, he digs his heels in and will not budge. Jesus, he says, may be this or that, and your opinions may be this or that, but one thing I personally know: “Whereas I was blind, now I see.”
Is our Christian belief simply a creed “handed-down?” Is it a blind faith? A blind faith is a travesty on what the New Testament celebrates: “Whereas I was blind, now I see.” Secondhand belief doesn’t provide the vision—it doesn’t open our eyes to a new way of life that sees Love at the heart of all things.