Recently, I've been pondering the Lazarus story and how his story is really our story. The way I see it, we've all been called out from death to life by the Good Shepherd. But what still tangles and trips us are the filthy linens of burial. Even though we've heard His call and come out of the tomb, we're still dragging death around with us. Jesus calls us to live.
What do your "death rags" look like?
The Jewish zealot turned Jesus follower, Paul, spends an entire chapter of his letter to the "called out" in Galatia differentiating Spirit-life (i.e. real life) from the life of the flesh (i.e. death). Instead of selfishness and pride, he says that our life should be ripe with humility, patience and self-control.
These are the fruits of real living.
But notice at the end of the Lazarus story who has to strip him of his burial clothes? We cannot shed death on our own. Jesus can give us life, but unless we have help from others, we will not begin to live the Spirit-life. We need help to remove the bondage--the baggage, if you will--from the death that hung around us like a shroud. It covered our eyes and our ears. It bound our hands and feet. Death kept us from a life of service to others. As we shed death by dealing with our baggage with a little help from our friends, we can truly begin to live.
It takes humility to recognize this and ask for help. But real life--the Spirit-life Jesus promised--can come through no other means. That's why the ancient Jewish Scripture says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."