An Old Hat Faith

Do you remember the story of Lazarus’ resurrection in John chapter 11? Jesus knew he was sick and purposely stayed back, waiting in order to demonstrate his supernatural power in a way that no one had ever seen before. Wow, that in itself is worthy of an entire sermon series. But today let’s focus in on something a little different–the response of 3 individuals as it relates to this story.

  1. Doubting Thomas. When Jesus catches word that Lazarus is sick, he decides to stay two days before he and his disciples head back to Judea. The key word there is “back” because Jesus was just there in Judea, and the Jews nearly stoned him to death… None of the disciples wanted to return to a potentially dangerous region, especially Thomas. In fact, he pipes up in what I consider to be an irrevocably sarcastic tone: “Fine! Let’s go! We’re only sentencing ourselves to death here” (see v. 16)!
  2. Accusatory Martha. As Jesus approaches the town in which Lazarus had been buried, he discovers that Martha has already come outside to meet him. She’s practically waiting for him, running toward him in accusation: “Jesus! Where have you been?! If you had been here, my brother would not be dead right now! It’s all your fault” (see vs. 20-22)! And as loving and kind as Jesus is, he responds calmly, “Your brother will rise again” (v. 23). But of course, being frustrated as she is, Martha doesn’t understand…
  3. Sorrowful Mary. When Mary finally meets with Jesus, she falls at his feet and sobbingly cries to him: “Oh Jesus! Had you only been here, my brother would not have died!” (v. 32). And moved with anger directed toward earthly pain and compassion toward Mary’s grief, Jesus wept. At which point, Jesus goes to Lazarus’ tomb, calls out to him, and raises him back to life.

Let me ask you a question today? When tragedy strikes, with which individual do you most identify with? When your faith is weak, do you spew sarcasm and doubt like Thomas? When your faith lacks, do you react with blame and accusation like Martha? Or, like Mary, when faithfulness is a struggle, do you still fall at Christ’s feet and cry out to him in spite of it all?

Allow me to encourage you today. Never allow your faith to become old hat. Never allow your love for and trust in our Heavenly Father to become routine. But even when tragedy strikes, may the God of peace strengthen your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

“When God’s love is taken for granted, we paint Him into a corner and rob Him of the opportunity to love us in a NEW AND SURPRISING way, and faith begins to shrivel and shrink. When I become so spiritually advanced that Abba is old hat, then the Father has been had, Jesus has been tamed, the Spirit has been corralled, and the Pentecostal fire has been extinguished…

To be Christian, faith has to be new–that is, alive and growing. It cannot be static, finished, settled. When Scripture, prayer, worship, ministry become routine, they are dead. When I conclude that I can now cope with the awful love of God, I have headed for the shallows to avoid the depths. I could more easily contain Niagara Falls in a teacup than I can comprehend the wild, uncontainable love of God.”

-Brennan Manning, Ragamuffin Gospel

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