Paul, in Ephesians 3, explains how he counts as error his previous life of adherence to the letter of the Jewish Law. Now that he uses the senses with which God equipped him, he realises that there is a much better way, the way of Jesus. And there is a goal to strive for which has nothing to do with slavish adherence to the old scripture. Remember, when Paul was writing in about 50AD, there were no Gospels, and probably no written record of the life of Jesus, nothing beyond the Old Testament.
Isaiah, in chapter 42, talks about leading blind people through rocky, uneven paths. I have walked with blind people through unfamiliar countryside and been astonished at their capability. Even though they cannot use sight, they use other senses, mainly hearing, to understand the contours of the land and the rocks in the path, with some help from sighted friends.
Isaiah says that many of us have eyes but do not use them and ears but we do not listen. Fancy having senses, given by God, and not using them to find out about God’s plan, God’s world! Yet, listening to the prayers we utter in Church, one could be forgiven for thinking that we apply very little of our God-given sense to our prayers.
Does how we pray really reflect what we believe? Do we believe that God cures people to order? Or that God intervenes in the creation of natural disasters in response to prayer? Or that God is more concerned about older people living with illnesses than about young people at school? Do we believe that God will grant anything we ask, or do we hedge that round with “Terms and Conditions?” Why do we sometimes blame God for punishing us by visiting misfortune on us; do we believe that God visits disobedient people with misfortune?
Are we grateful for our food? Do we understand that a great many people have little to eat and that growing food is a sacred occupation? Do we manifest our understanding in the efforts we take to avoid waste? Do we always say “Thank You” for our food? Are we grateful for our ability to walk? Is this reflected in how we habitually make short journeys, even in the rain? Do we believe that all people are God’s children? Is this reflected in how we respond to those with whom we disagree? Do we pray earnestly for situations beyond our reach but then neglect to send some of our money to support those who do work there? How much of it?
I think all this counts, as my Mother often said to me, as “Not using the sense you were born with”.
While we are on the subject of what we believe, do we believe that God gave us the ability and desire to study His world in all its glory? Many of the earliest scientists were also clergymen with time on their hands. Roger Bacon, Nicolaus Copernicus, Ramon Llull, Gregor Mendel, William of Ockham, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and more… So, how is it that so many Christians prefer to ignore scientific findings about creation, evolution, even vaccination? Of course it is tempting to cling on to the ancient beliefs, now superseded by the life, teaching, and example of Jesus, but this would be to have ears and not to listen, to have eyes and not to see. As Paul says: I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.