Never Too Far Gone

Written 19 October 2010.

As humans living in a world defined by limitations, we tend to view certain circumstances with finality.  A moment, once spent, cannot be retrieved.  A day, once passed, will never come again.  And a life, once extinguished, is gone forever.  We can make technological advances that enable us to make better use of our time, but clocks continue to tick steadily.  We can treat diseases and prolong life by the use of medication, but death has always had, and will always have, the final word – except when Jesus Christ steps in.  God, who created nature, has the power to override its laws; yet we are so caught up in our expectations of the way things “ought” to work that we presume to attach limitations to God’s ability to accomplish the impossible.

When Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus was ill, he went to him but arrived four days too late.  Lazarus, teetering on the brink between life and death, had gone too far, and now he was dead.  The situation was final and irreversible – or so it seemed to all who saw him buried.  Jesus, defying everyone’s expectations, changed the reality and reversed the finality.  While everyone else stood around shaking their heads and saying “It’s too late for Lazarus,” Jesus was calling to him.  Reluctant to roll back the stone and smell rotting flesh that signified the unpleasant irrevocability of death, they stood back holding their noses in disbelief as Jesus proved them wrong.  The truth is, none of the mourners should have written Lazarus off as dead and gone.  It was not their place to assume; they never should have doubted the power of God to raise the dead.  They had no right to suppose their judgment was correct.  At least, that’s what we’ve been taught from this story: never to underestimate the power of God.  Because when Jesus called, Lazarus answered.

From our complacent view, it’s easy to accuse Lazarus’ friends and family of not having enough faith.  After all, this was Jesus they were doubting – Jesus, who had gained a reputation for opening the eyes of the blind!  Yet if we were to call them down for a lack of faith, we would have to blame ourselves as well.

Time is not the only thing we presume to be irretrievable.  How often have we, in our self-righteousness and smugness, written off lost souls that we considered too far gone?  So many times we look down from our elitist thrones scorning the prisoners, the drug dealers, the unwed mothers, and even the tattooed and pierced teenagers who we automatically stereotype as “no good.”  Yet who are we to judge when God is the only one who has the power to save or condemn?  We turn up our noses when we smell the scum of society, but we will stand back and watch in disbelief as God disproves our preconceived notions.  In the words of Steve Berger, “Drop the rocks, empty your pockets, and get down on your knees” – because the One who created people has the power to override their expectations.

No one is too far gone for Jesus to call.  They are not too far gone to hear.  And they are never too far gone to answer.

Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 4:36 am  Leave a Comment  

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