Luke 6:39-42

He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher.

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. Luke 6:39-42

I got stuck when we got to this passage. I’ve had to think long and hard about what to say. It is a timeless message but has never been as timely than it is in this moment of our history.

Clearly, Jesus’ question is rhetorical. The obvious answers are, “No, a blind person cannot guide another blind person. Yes, both will fall into the pit.” Therefore, and here’s the point, we all need to see clearly, with open eyes, noticing, before anything else, how our own personal vision is distorted. Only then can we see clearly enough to guide others, even to remove the speck we might see in their eyes.

Having said that, there is a big difference between someone who is blind (which comes via birth, a disease, or a horrible accident) and someone who refuses to see. There might not be a difference in degree – whether blind or obstinately keeping your eyes closed – you still fall into the pit. But there is certainly a difference in kind – we can open our eyes anytime we want to.

I wonder, in the age in which we now live, if people are at all conscious about how tightly they keep their eyes shut.

The breathtaking changes we have seen in the last 40 years – the birth, then utter dominance, of the internet, the ubiquity of talk radio, tribal television, changing moral norms, increased diversity, increased gap between the richest of the rich and everybody else, constant war, the fading influence of mainline Christianity and the rise of partisan Christianity – have blinded us. We feel their corrosive effects not only in labeling and name calling, tribalism, fake news, alternative facts, and whataboutism, but in the full-throated insistence from far too many people to protect and defend those who profit from such corrosion.

We seem to have arrived at a point in time that has rendered so many of us with the inability, or the stubborn refusal, to engage in the kind of healthy self-reflection which is required if we have any hope of seeing the log in our own eyes. Our civil discourse has sunk to such childish depths that it is no wonder that all that divides us appears to be winning the day.

Jesus’ admonition to check the log in our own eye is the absolute opposite of the “whataboutism” that has characterized our public lives for the past several years. When any effort to hold someone accountable is met with “Yeah, but what about…..”, there is only offensive defensiveness and continued blindness.

What does it look like to check the log in our own eyes? Read the 2nd chapter of Philippians – seriously, look it up today and read the whole thing. We can pray until the cows come home that Jesus heal our blindness, but only we can open our own eyes.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, grant us the courage, the wisdom, and the willingness to seek truth in ourselves, in our lives, in our world, lest we fall into pits that we should have seen coming. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


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