“Meanwhile, a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead” – John 12:9
This passage encourages and challenges me at the same time. I’m encouraged because the masses are still attracted to Jesus, who remains the main event and primary crowd pleaser. That’s good. However, the people are also interested in seeing Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. That’s the challenging part.
This challenge leads me to a difficult question: If people are naturally attracted to a resurrected life, are they attracted to my life? Furthermore, if people are not attracted to me, I have to wonder if I’m living the resurrected life Jesus came to give. Maybe this is what Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Philippians, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection . . . and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
The word resurrection literally means, to “place” or “stand up.” To the Greek mind of Paul’s day, the living people were standing up and the dead people were lying down. Perhaps Paul was giving his readers the image of a spiritually resurrected man walking among those who are spiritually dead and on their backs.
That’s a great image, but how do we do that? How do we live our Christian life in such an extreme manner that we appear as a living, walking body in a room full of corpses? How do we live like a resurrected body among the spiritually dead? What sets us apart from them? How will they know we are alive?
Before I get to that, I know what does not say we’re alive. It not our Christian T-shirts or fancy Bible covers. Blaring Christian music at work, much to the disdain of our non-Christian co-workers won’t be effective. It won’t be bowing the head in prayer and pious humility before eating lunch (all the while making sure everyone sees us doing it). It won’t be a Christian bumper sticker (do they still sell those or am I dating myself?), or speaking in tongues of men and of angels.
What will set us apart from the crowd is the evidence of the fruit of the spirit. The availability of love when we’re hated (hard to imagine, but some people don’t like you. Or me.); joy when there is tension and sorrow and no reason to be happy; peace when our world is falling apart; patience when everyone around us shouts “NOW is the time to move” but the spirit says “Wait.”; kindness when angry words are thrown our way.
If Christ has given us the power to walk spiritually resurrected among the spiritually dead, then it will be a living and active spirit of Christ that people will notice, and they’ll notice it because they cannot imitate it. Anyone can make a show of bowing their heard over a meal or playing Christian music, but nobody can fake the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, the joy that moves beyond happiness and temporary circumstances, and a love that is unconditionally focused on another the person’s best, even if it means putting our self aside.
I want to be an upright man who walks among the dead, attracting and inviting people to walk with me. However, if people are going to be attracted to my resurrected life, let it be only as a means to introduce them to the true Resurrection and the Life.