Thomas Slater, Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta, GA, hints at an interesting question in his consideration of our gospel for this week (John 9:1-41). He wonders just when is good not good enough? After all, in John’s narrative, Jesus has just healed a man born blind. The response from the religious authorities is to accuse Jesus of being an evil person— “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” (vs 24).
Slater says this happens for [at least] two reasons. The first is envy. When someone does good, there is usually a bunch of people who just can’t stand it and to feel better about their own lives tend to run down the doer of good. .” Nothing someone else does is ever good, great, or awesome. It is never pretty, beautiful, or outstanding. It is always barely good enough.
The second reason Slater cites is what sociologists call cognitive dissonance. Simply put, this means reality does not confirm expectations but people continue believing what they believed previously. Further, we reject facts when they do not confirm our long‑held beliefs. No amount of evidence can convince us. If we do not believe something is possible, for us it is not possible. When those in leadership roles— like the Pharisees— get caught in this trap, the results can be devastating, if not downright destructive.
Nor did this stop with the first century religious leaders. The church today is still populated with persons who confess their loyalty to a loving, gracious God, but they themselves are unloving and ungracious. They own the center of the stage. When pressed, they always do what is expedient or what is convenient. Whereas, people with deep faith affirm the tradition, but are open to new perspectives and new methods without being threatened.
Slater concludes: “The Church needs more [people] who are gracious and loving, who do what is right and not what is expedient or convenient. The Church needs more people who celebrate goodness and righteousness wherever it may be found.”