Remember that first day at a new school? Those feelings of being nervous, curious, not quite sure what was going to happen? Or how about your first day in a new job? Probably had flashbacks to being the new kid in school…
Being a rookie, at anything, is rough. Everywhere you look, you see people who look like they’ve been successful for years. You definitely don’t want to interrupt the way things seem to naturally flow, and you certainly don’t want to be in the way. It’s easy to allow the doubt to creep in and cloud our thinking – Do I really belong? Will they think I’m stupid or ignorant? Will I mess this up? Will I even know that I messed something up? How many times can I mess up before they don’t want me around anymore?
Whenever we venture out into something new, no matter what it is, there’s always one thing we’re hoping for: someone kind enough to help us out and show us around.
We all have vivid memories of that first person to befriend us when we were feeling more lost than we cared to admit. Their willingness to reach out to the newbie made it easier for us to find our place and figure out the rhythm to our new settings.
Honestly, the Christian life isn’t any different. Being a newbie is a little scary. We’re unsure of what to say or what to do next. Everyone around looks like a spiritual veteran, like they’re a half-step away from perfection…and we’re just sitting here, surprised that God let someone like us into His family.
So, how is this supposed to work for a newbie Christian? Since Jesus brought us into the family, why doesn’t He immediately take away all the junk and bad habits left over from our previous life?
Tucked away in John’s account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, there is a six word command where Jesus clues us in:
So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You heard me. I know that You always hear Me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so that they may believe You sent Me.”
After He said this He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.”
Not to make too much out of a minor detail, but I find it interesting that Jesus didn’t unwrap Lazarus from his burial cloths. Lazarus didn’t unwrap Lazarus. Instead, Jesus instructed those closest to the resurrected man to “Unwrap him and let him go.”
Jesus had just brought a man back from the grave, but He gave others the responsibility of helping Lazarus remove the remnants of his old life. This wasn’t going to be a task Lazarus could do on his own. He needed someone who was willing to reach in close and help deal with the dirty death-rags left over from his previous life.
Let’s be clear:
If you were a world-class jerk when you met Jesus and accepted His offer of eternal life, you’re still going to have a lot of jerk-ness that needs to be dealt with, even after being saved.
Anyone who tells you that you should be immediately perfect after encountering Jesus hasn’t read their New Testament in a while. Instead of placing perfection-level expectations on a brand-new Christian, us veterans need to be willing to get our hands dirty. We need to show them around, help them see the rhythm and flow of living a Christ-centered life.
Also note that Jesus didn’t tell Lazarus to go ask someone to help him remove his burial cloths. Us veterans shouldn’t wait for a newbie to come up and ask for assistance. We approach them, help them, and then smile as we watch them go in their new, life-long adventure.