(Author’s note: if you are new to The Lazarus Chronicles, you will be surprised that I talk with Lazarus [see Gospel of John, chapter 11). Of course this is simply my way of exploring issues through dialogue. This regular feature of the blog is called “Coffee with Lazarus.” I hope you like this installment.)
My recent sermon (link) took on the issue of the church’s prophetic voice, not the one used by the Old Testament prophets to predict future events, but the voice that spoke to immoral customs, ways of living entrenched in the cultural mindset. I’d been thinking about the church and culture, and when I realized that I hadn’t had coffee with Lazarus for a long time, I made a pot and hoped he would show up.
As always he appeared when I wasn’t looking for him. We greeted each other warmly. I’ve always wanted to hug him or shake his hand, but our worlds are so different touching is forbidden. No worries. It is always a joy to sit and talk.
Lazarus: It is good to see you, my friend.
Me: Thanks. I’ve missed talking with you.
Lazarus: I wanted to tell you that I saw your recent sermon.
Me: Really? Do you have internet up there?
“Don’t be cute,” he said with a grin. Fortunately, he has grown accustomed to my sense of humor. I asked him what he thought. He said, “Preaching that is directed to culture’s way of life can be a dangerous game. You mentioned some very bold men.”
“I’m sure there were many who opposed them and even hated them for exposing the sins that had become acceptable ways of life,” I said.
He reminded me about the prophets who had come before his day. “When I was on earth, I wondered about the struggles of Jeremiah and Ezekiel before my time. If I hadn’t known what Jeremiah had to go through, I might have thought he just complained too much.”
“I know,” I said. “Other than God, at times it didn’t look like he had many people to turn to for comfort, much less support. I can see the struggle with that.” Even as I said that, Lazarus knew what I was thinking before I said anything else.
He said with mock surprise, “I didn’t even say anything and the Sanhedrin wanted to kill me! I was evidence of Jesus’ power, and by then a large number of people believed in him.”
I remembered reading about that in John 12:10. “Were you frightened?” I asked. “According to John, the leaders had been conspiring to arrest Jesus for some time. I suspect the temptation to keep quiet overcame a lot of people.”
Lazarus stared at his coffee cup then held it out for more. I obliged while he began to speak. “I guess I was a little scared. They could have come for me when Jesus left, but my unique experience of being resurrected sustained me.”
“Brought back to life after four days in the tomb! I guess that was memorable, to say the least.” I couldn’t hide my wonder at that, and I had asked him about that experience before, but I knew he couldn’t tell me what it was like.
He continued, “Think about it. That’s what all Christians have experienced, isn’t it? Jeremiah’s motivation also kept popping up in my mind.”
“Ah, yes.” I said. “The fire in his bones (Jeremiah 20:9). He couldn’t help but speak the words of God despite his fears. If it weren’t the Spirit of God that motivated him, I’d be tempted to say he was compulsive.”
“Like all of us who have faith,” Lazarus said, “our trust in God’s truth has to win out over our reticence. I know you know this, but courage acts in spite of fear, not because of lack of fear.”
He drained his coffee and got up to leave. “So we are left with faith and courage,” I said but hoped he had more to give me.
“And the witness of those who’ve come before you,” were his last words as he walked through the mist.
I decided I should reflect more on the courage and conviction of people who dared to expose a dark culture to the light of God’s word.
© 2023 Robert T. Weber, Words Done Right LLC and The Lazarus Chronicles