Someone has to do it. And that's one of the factors of Lazarus's story that shocks me most. For while Jesus Christ did what only He could do--bring a dead man back to life--He invited those who stood around watching to help with the process.
"Loose him, and let him go." It's the same command Christ gives the church today.
I love what Jerry Goebel says about this passage of scripture [John 11:43-44]. "The work of Jesus is to bring life; the work of the congregation is to unbind people from the trappings of death. The words that Christ speaks are so full; he literally tells the 'congregation'; 'Destroy what holds him down. Send him forth free.'"
Unfortunately, most of us would rather observe a resurrection than actually participate in one. Like the priest and Levite who passed by the wounded man [Luke 10:30-35], we shy away from actually getting involved in the work of loving someone back to life. Some of us prefer to the role of cynic, refusing to belive that God has really changed a person or that the change can last.
"All too often, we never unbind those who Christ has resurrected," Goebel says. "We would rather continue to see them with the haughty eyes of the skeptic. We are more excited for them to fail than to change ...".
An attitude like that breaks God's heart. And it can actually add another layer of graveclothes to someone who is tyring to walk out of the tomb of his or her past. Goebel writes:
We bind people through our attitudes toward them. We bind them when we hold onto their faults instead of lifting up and encouraging their attempts to change. We bind people when we don't forgive them. We bind them when we gossip to others about their faults. Whenever we treat people out of our smallness of instead of the Lord's abundance; we keep them bound.
We free them when we are determined to see new life in them. We free them then we praise God. We free them when we forgive them. We free them when we smile and welcome them, saying; "I am so glad you are here; do you have anyone to sit with today?" We free them the most when we seek them in their tombs and, "snorting at death," we command them in the name of Christ to come into new life.
Whenever we treat another out of Christ's greatness and not our smallness; we free them.
That is the work we are called to as brothers and sisters in the Lord -- unbinding, through acceptance and love, those whom Jesus has resurrected. However, as I've pointed out, helping people walk out into a new life can be a messy process. Though a person has received Christ as Savior, it may take a lot of time and effort before the outer self catches up with the inward work. None of us is born -- or reborn -- into this world squeaky clean.
Still, if God isn't threatened by the stink, they why are we?
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
"Loose him and let him go."
Reading through Joanna Weaver's new book I came across this ...