World Vision & The Man Born Blind (Jn 9:1-41)


Given this week’s lectionary text, it is a convenient name for the organization in question: World Vision.

The story from John 9 is of the healing of the man born blind and his resulting, systematic removal from the community.  Below is a rough attempt to put the two stories in parallel for my upcoming sermon, and I would appreciate any help or insight that folks have towards that end.

World Vision (henceforth, “WV”), as an organization, is the blind man, who was made to see, so that the works of God might be revealed (v. 3)

What they saw was the full humanity of all human beings without discriminating on the basis of non-defining characteristics. (What is meant by “non-defining” is that the sexual orientation of an individual does not define that individual’s humanity any more than does the color of his/her eyes or the political party with which s/he affiliates. Other people may not like blue-eyed Democrats, but they recognize the full humanity of Al Gore.)

What they did was to start treating people who are presently being discriminated against differently … to treat them as if they are human beings, capable of doing good, thoughtful work in a world in need of good, thoughtful workers.

The religious authorities (in this case, their authority rests in “purchasing power” more than it does in moral/ethical insight, training, or even institutional support) do not see the way that WV now sees, and they don’t like the change. So the people with the power use that power to obstruct the new life of WV—the life lived according to its new vision.

“Neighbors and Parents,” for fear of the powerful, abandon WV to fend for itself in a world of division, effectively leaving the organization unable to live into its full potential, despite the fact that it is now more equipped to do so that it ever has been. The one who has gained vision is no longer recognized or claimed by those who still fail to see. In fact, she is often despised by them.

In the gospel story, the blind man gained his sight but lost everything else.

Jesus enlightened the world and was nailed to a cross by the defenders of darkness.

On Wednesday, WorldVision reversed its decision to hire openly gay men and women to work for the organization.  It could not bear the loss of so much financial support. On Tuesday, thousands of people had refused to continue supporting the organization because of its decision to let all people participate equally in its mission.

WV could not go to the cross with Jesus.

It could not afford to lose everything for the sake of vision; too many children would be left without sponsors, and that is not World Vision’s fault.

But for a moment WV saw the world as Jesus sees it and they really and truly believed that it was possible to live into that world here and now.

Were they mistaken? What do we see? What do we believe?


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