Although it’s a breakup song, and has nothing to do with the Bible, the song “Loose Change” by the Highwomen is what pops into my head when I read the first few verses of the story of the man with congenital blindness in John 9.
“Loose change, I ain’t worth a thing to you. Loose change, you don’t see my value…”
There is this tendency in our society to treat disabled people like children, or like they are not fully human. And we have the advantage of scientific advancement, and of knowing way more about disability than our ancestors ever did.
So, I can only imagine that in a world where disabled people relied heavily on their communities and often became beggars, that the man born blind was very much on the outside looking in. Even Jesus’ disciples — when they first meet him — don’t seem to view this man as a living, breathing person.
Fully focused on his blindness, and on the possible reasons for it, they ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
To which Jesus tells them, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”
A lot of folks get hung up on that last part of Jesus’s response, and for good reason. The way that this has been translated in many Bibles makes it sound like God purposely inflicts pain on people so that He can come along and fix it, and make people think that He’s great.
Personally, I don’t believe that God works that way, and anybody who has studied Greek can tell you that this verse has been translated into English poorly, and that it doesn’t really say that, either.
What Jesus is doing here is giving this blind man his dignity back. In a world where this man’s disability has made him a project, Jesus is proclaiming that this man has an important role to play in the Kingdom of God.
This man belongs, he is beloved, and he is inherently valuable. As an image bearer of God — a person called to reflect God’s love into the world — God’s works will be revealed in him. He is just as crucial, and just as worthy as anyone else.
This is good news, and good news indeed. And the thing about is that it is not just good news for the man born blind. This is true for every single one of us.
No matter who you are, or who you’ve been, you are deeply loved by the Creator of the world. You are valued. You are irreplaceable, and you are on this earth for a reason. You are not an object, but rather a child of God with an important job to do.
Really think about that, Friends. Let it sink in to the deepest and most wounded parts of your heart.
Do you believe that? That you are beloved? That God has invited you to be a part of His Kingdom? That you bear God’s image in the world, that God has called you to be a minister, and that God’s works will be revealed in you?
Do you believe that your dignity has been built in, and that you matter? Do you recognize your own worth?
On the flip side, do you believe those things about your annoying coworker? Or about that relative who always seems to push your buttons? Or about the homeless people in your community? Or about that person you know who struggles with addiction?
Or about people who vote differently than you do, or who hold differing beliefs or opinions? Or about people with disabilities? When you look out into a crowd of people, do you see fellow image bearers of God? Or do you see burdens, tasks, and caricatures?
The last part of the chorus of “Loose Change” says: I’m gonna be somebody’s lucky penny someday, ‘stead of rollin’ round in your pocket, like loose change. We are all God’s lucky pennies, Friends.
There is no loose change in the Kingdom of God. May we all rest deep in God’s love, and may our lives reflect God’s infinite grace.
Hannah Lutz is Pastor of Ada Chapel Friends Meeting.