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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The God Who Doesn't Come As Called...

I was having a discussion with Dad and Jeanille the other day and a concept was dropped that made me think about a particular idea: that being just how much we want everything to go our way when we want it. It's a concept that extends to God and how we think our life should be and comes from the story of Lazarus.

Let's start looking at this story from John 11: 1-6
1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
 The first point that arose from this conversation was the fact that there is an implication in the words of the sisters, "Lord the one that you love is sick." The implication being that there are other people that Jesus did not love so much as Lazarus and that it was important for Jesus to drop everything and come to see Lazarus because of his love for Lazarus. If we move on we see this idea reinforced a little again:
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
If you had been here, my brother would not have died. These are words full of blame and feel like they're designed to guilt trip Jesus as we read them. A blaming of Jesus for not having dropped everything and rushed straight to Lazarus' side. Yet Martha still knew that God would give Jesus whatever he asked of Him and admits that at the end.

If we move to verse 37 it says 'But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”' Here we have many people who openly admit that Jesus has the power to cease death and cause healing but that Jesus had to have come earlier at a time appropriate for them. Yet all this clearly has an impact upon Jesus because verse 38 onwards talks about how Jesus was "once more deeply moved."
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
You see, here is my conclusion to this story and why it is so important for us today still. So many of us are content in our lives for Jesus to come and prevent us from dying. In other words, to stop the little problem that's bad for our health (physical or spiritual) and killing us in that moment but we aren't always content to fix the problem before it leads to something killing us. I'm not fully sure whether Lazarus had a lifestyle that contributed to his death but the moment that he was sick it's apparent that Mary and Martha wanted him to come immediately to heal the man that he loves. But Jesus didn't come immediately, or the day after, no - he came when Lazarus had lain in his tomb for days.

Ultimately here's the lesson: Jesus/God/The Holy Spirit - all three aspects of God - don't act just because you want them to. Our God is not some genie in a bottle. Some people want to flip everything on their head and make God their doG to come when called and do whatever trick they want Him to. Here's the thing though, when God does act? It's with real power - it's not just the power to prevent you from dying, it's the power to completely resurrect you. So my challenge is for us to be people who don't just treat our awesome God as someone who will do whatever we want but to recognise that every answer to prayer is a blessing of grace. We don't deserve it, but it's because his heart breaks for us that God pours out his love in true abundance. We simply need to receive it truly.