Monday, April 17, 2006

What was it like?

I have been stewing over something for a couple of weeks now. It's about Lazarus.
In John 11, we find Christ performing the final miracle of His public ministry. This event profoundly impacted the culture of the day. But the thing that I've been chewing on is: what did Lazarus experience while being dead for 4 days? Was he sleeping? Was he in Paradise? Biblical scholars have held differing views on the state of death. My view on the moment of death is consistent with reformed theology. We leave this body to instantly enter the presence of Christ. No sleep state. No limbus patrum. This, I believe, is true for the Old Testament and New Testament faithful (OT examples: Enoch and Elijah). For more on this, check out Grudem's Systematic Theology, Ch. 41.
So, Lazarus, being dead for 4 days, enjoyed the unfettered presence of God. What must it have been like? And, what was it like to be yanked back to this world? Did he know he was coming back? Did he ask, as Clarke asserts, if he would have to die again? One thing is for certain: this event so changed him that he became a threat to the religious leaders of his day. In John 12:10 - 11 we find that the chief priests were plotting the death of Lazarus as well, because, "on account of him many Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him." A close friend once said, "Death is a life-changing experience." That was certainly the case for Lazarus, and I think is an important lesson for me: my death and new life should be a life-changing experience. It should be one that makes me dangerous to the enemy, the establishment, and the brokers of religion. Can't you just see Lazarus sitting with different groups of people in the bars or city places telling them with great fervor and urgency about what he had seen, and what waits for those who have trusted Christ? God, drive me with that same urgency and fervor, to share with those who need to know, what waits for them on the other side of the grave!


The Bishop said...

I got this from my sister, Joey. I've moved it to this spot...
I believe with all of my heart that since we are all children of God, we all have God within us somewhere. This doesn't necessarily mean that everyone has or will tap into that, it merely means that there is that potential in all of us. It isnt our job to plant, water, and harvest. On that note, although you can't make someone come to church, you can plant the seed by being consistent in your own behavior, making sure you arent a Sunday Christian - we all know the type - they dress up and play nice on Sunday but when Friday rolls around they are out and about again - that is one of the biggest turn offs for non-believers and even for believers who do not attend church. That is not to say everyone must be perfect all of the time, everyone slips up and makes mistakes, but if you are making them daily in front of the very person you are trying to get into church, you may be doing more damage than good. I have been watching an absolutely awesome series with Kirk Cameron and Ray Love called Way of the Master - you can catch it on TV or go to their website - but what they focus on is teaching Christians how to witness and how to reach out to non-believers and backsliders. Its a great way to get some good ideas on how to approach, talk to, and even convert individuals without being offensive or judgmental They also teach you how to counter the tough questions that some will toss your way, like evolution and the Big Bang Theory, the age of the earth, dinosaurs, etc., etc., and they pull their answers straight from the Bible - they actually open their Bible up and read from it to prove their point or counter the incorrect conclusions of the person they are speaking with.
Anyway, just my opinion, but I do believe that God is in all of us, so there is hope and potential for everyone. And just because I am a Christian doesnt mean I automatically know how to reach out to others, just like most things in life - it takes time, practice and teaching.

The Bishop said...

Just a couple of quick thoughts about this:
While we do all have a part to us that the rest of creation doesn't, that eternal part that God breathed into us at creation, I think we need to be careful to say that everyone has God in them somewhere.
The other initial response is that it is our job to plant, water, and harvest. Paul even writes that he planted and Apollos watered, but God makes it grow. Jesus reminded His disciples to ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into the field to do the harvesting. I do agree that it is God that makes those seeds grow, though, and I think that's what you meant.
Thanks for your thoughts and for pointing folks to Cameron's "The Way Of The Master."
Peace - J

Joey Lyon said...

You got it when I mentioned it isnt our job to plant, water, and harverst. We should all do those things, but we cant expect to do all three to one person and expect the person to turn around instantly. Being a youth minister myself, I have been able to see the seed of the love of Christ planted, and it wasnt harvested until sometimes years later, and it was watered and nurtured by many different people then ultimately harvested by someone completely different. Sometimes I plant, sometimes I water, sometimes I harvest, but it is always through the Lord that any of it is possible. And when I say the Lord is in all of us, I am referring to the fact that we are all His creations, and as such, there is a part of us that is connected to God - not necessarily Christ, but God - and the potential for Godly living is there for us all, it just isnt always utilized or recognized in everyone.