So yeah, the choices suck. We stay in the perceived safety of our dysfunction, the familiar, or we deal with our crap, experience the pain and fear of the uncertainty.One promises freedom on the other side, the other keeps us in a sick cycle of a false reality. This Lewis quote sums it up well.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
Religion can be added to the list of things we ‘wrap’ our hearts in. Dry, dead religion. It gives us a counterfeit relationship with God that feels ‘safe’ but actually ends up putting heavy demands on us that we can never live up to, then accuses us of being screwed up, flawed.
We enter into counterfeit relationships to create an illusion of intimacy and safety. But these are often destructive.
To be free requires us to be real with God and ourselves. To remove the masks, remove the smelly grave clothes , work through the stink and be brought into a place of new life. Jesus had this little fellowship of bethany not only remove the grave clothes but the stone as well. The blocks.
Jesus wept…He entered into the fellowship of suffering among his friends in Bethany.
Jesus knew there would be restoration….
Jesus asked the ones who loved Lazarus deeply to remove the stone and the grave clothes….
Are we not a part of that same little fellowship, like the fellowship of Bethany?
What an act of love to remove the grave clothes of one who has been ‘dead’ to endure the stench of death, to see beyond the messiness and in eager anticipation of restoration take part in such a loving act.
We know Jesus restores, but the removing of the smelly grave clothes of a hurting one is the ultimate act of love. They had to first trust God with their loved one..They had to by faith obey what he asked of them even though the situation looked hopeless. And they had to take action by stripping away the smelly layers.
Can we love in such a radical way and help free those who the world has left for dead?
17-20When Jesus finally got there, he found Lazarus already four days dead. Bethany was near Jerusalem, only a couple of miles away, and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary, sympathizing with them over their brother. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house.
21-22Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.”
23Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.”
24Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”
25-26″You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”
27″Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.”
28After saying this, she went to her sister Mary and whispered in her ear, “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.”
29-32The moment she heard that, she jumped up and ran out to him. Jesus had not yet entered the town but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When her sympathizing Jewish friends saw Mary run off, they followed her, thinking she was on her way to the tomb to weep there. Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33-34When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. He said, “Where did you put him?”
34-35″Master, come and see,” they said. Now Jesus wept.
36The Jews said, “Look how deeply he loved him.”
37Others among them said, “Well, if he loved him so much, why didn’t he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of a blind man.”
38-39Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of stone laid against it. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.”
The sister of the dead man, Martha, said, “Master, by this time there’s a stench. He’s been dead four days!”
40Jesus looked her in the eye. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
41-42Then, to the others, “Go ahead, take away the stone.”
They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, “Father, I’m grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I’ve spoken so that they might believe that you sent me.”
43-44Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face.
Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.”