Community or Conformity?

For those in Christian circles, this may be a familiar theme. For others, maybe strange; perhaps ridiculous; novel…

My middle child (almost adult) was sharing a story from a friend/previous teacher concerning the desire of some people that they be ‘healed’ from their blindness. Someone pulled their car over to the side of the road to invite this friend and her companions to church, exclaiming that he had prayed for the healing of blind people in the past and they were ‘healed’. Her response was that she believes in and has seen God’s miraculous healing herself, and that receiving her sight was for God’s timing. Perhaps more importantly though, this passer-by came across as pushy and didn’t even address this friend directly but spoke about her to her companions (very common). My eldest has been stopped in the street by someone insisting on praying for his ‘healing’, which he was obliged to allow. Their father and I have repeatedly been asked (sometimes by the same person) to present our children at the front of the church building so that others can pray for their ‘healing’.

My daughter’s response?

 In relation to this subject, I haven’t been prayed for or have had this offer personally, but I know my parents have. I’m not sure how they responded in those situations, but I know from my perspective that I don’t consider myself sick. If I hadn’t been blind, there would be so many people I would not have met, people I wouldn’t have been able to share the gospel with and places I wouldn’t have been. I also think that if my sight were restored, I’d have all this vision and wouldn’t know what to do. I would have to learn to read and write again, and basically how to do basic every day things. Furthermore, I/we live in a developed country with services such as Vision Australia and Guide Dogs. In Jesus’ time when he healed blind people, they were “begging”. (No V A back then). So, while I have no sight I can live life, work, I have family and friends and a place in society. These people, because of their lack of sight, experienced absolute poverty: no food, money or social class in society. For Jesus to heal them was not only to heal their sight; but to restore (or rather allow) them a place in their communities. So basically, I’m happy the way I am. I will have my sight healed in one way or another (be it in this life or when I see Jesus in Heaven); but if God chooses to heal my sight while I am here on Earth so be it. If not, I’m feeling perfectly healthy and well and happy with my life at the moment.

My response? I’ll end with quoting myself from the Sympathy Versus Empathy post:

Sympathy alone would lend me to want to change another’s circumstances or person to suit me, make me feel better, achieve my goals, remove all that is a bother to me, include all that would make my life easier…A good beginning but a potentially disabling, judgemental, intrusive and ultimately self-seeking end. Not any of the things I associate with love, compassion or community. Empathy, on the other hand, and if an extension of the sympathy I first experience, would lend me to consider what would be in the best interests of the other. I might ask what their experience actually is, what their goals and frustrations are, what are their passions and hurts…the list could go on. I might then be able to feel and say, “I think I can see how you feel or why you would want that.”

Unity, inclusion, community, acceptance, respect, interdependence, individuality…cannot exist in conformity. I think we are sadly mistaken if we have imagined conformity to be the same as inclusive community.

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