Why Do You Want to Live Like This?
The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” John 11:44
A few months ago, I collected all our outdated video tapes and sent them into one of those services that digitizes them into a format that I can actually use. I just got them back and so, over the last several days, we’ve been watching them. It stirs up a lot of emotions to gaze nearly 20 years into the past. I’m thankful, remembering what wonderful times we had, but I’m also saddened as I can’t look back without remembering my addiction. Frankly, I have a lot of memories that are tainted by self-destructive behaviors.
Knowing the freedom and peace that I’ve now found in recovery, I look back at Scott of 15 or 20 years ago and I want to ask him, Why? Why did you wait so long to abandon the misery? Why would you continue down that road? This is a question we often want to ask when we see others self-destructing. Why do you want to live like this when the new life is available?
In today’s passage, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, foreshadowing the new life he offers each of us. In the story, Jesus stood at the entrance to the dead man’s tomb, commanding him to come out. Lazarus came out, at which point Jesus told those observing to remove his burial wrappings, freeing him from the bindings of death.
It would have been absurd, if Lazarus had remained in the tomb. If he’d simply chosen to stay, we’d think him insane. We’d be right in doing so. It is utter insanity to remain in the death and misery of the old existence, while Jesus offers the new one.
This is precisely what I’ve done, and what so many of us do though. Jesus calls us to abandon the tomb of our addictions, but it’s our nature to want to stay. Change is painful. Sometimes old relationships need to die. Sometimes, we need to go to treatment. Sometimes, the light hurts our eyes, so we remain in the darkness of the tomb.
Still though, Jesus stands, calling us to our resurrection. If we truly desire it, we must become willing to do whatever it takes to radically abandon the old life and follow the new one. Jesus is calling. Now, we must answer.