I just finished reading a chapter of a book. I love reading. But notice that I just finished a chapter - not the whole book. I love reading so much that I’ve had the same book sitting on my night stand for about a year and a half! (yes, the sarcasm is intended…) In all honesty, I do love reading, I just often let other things take priority.
The chapter I just finished was titled “Get Up,” and it’s from a book called “The Comeback: It’s Not Too Late and You’re Never Too Far” by Louie Giglio. Louie is the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and I’ve listened to his sermons, read his books, and respected him for years. In his writing, he reminded me of a story from the Bible that I had forgotten about. It is the account of Jesus bringing a dead man to life. I always remember that Jesus has conquered death! He Himself rose from the dead! I also always remember Him raising Lazarus, and if I think hard, I can recall the story of Jairus’ daughter. But Jesus raised others, too! This dead man was being carried out of the city of Nain. He was the only son of a widow. She was now destitute, and there was a large crowd grieving with her, joining her in this funeral march. Jesus had compassion on her, comforted her, and then went over and commanded her dead son to get up. And he did! The Scripture (found in Luke 7:11-17 NIV) then says all the people were, “filled with awe and praised God.”
Pastor Louie uses this story to show how Jesus’ purpose has always been, and still is, to bring dead people back to life. It is our sin that separates us from God, therefore making us “dead.” It has made us ALL dead. In Ephesians 2 (NIV), Paul writes, “as for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” But the good news, the basis on which our faith stands, is what is written just a few sentences later, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved.” Dead people can’t do a single thing for themselves. It’s Christ that does the work in us. When describing walking around college campuses and people-watching, Louie says, “When I study their faces, I see loneliness. I see heaviness. I see the desperate and sincere need to live for something greater than the here and now. I see a bondage to things that trap people in despair and darkness. I see a spiritual cluelessness that leaves people craving real fulfillment. Walk down any city street and you can see the same thing.” I’d even add to that - look out on any congregation in any given church, and you’ll see many struggling with the same thing.
The Enemy, Satan, is still seeking out those he can kill and destroy. He tempts us to lie back down in the coffin with the sin that leads to death. But Jesus gives us grace through salvation. He also gives us grace that helps us live this life, as we strive to be more like Him. And when we fall into the snare of sin, He is there to help us out again. Towards the end of the chapter, Louie writes, “The message of the gospel is that Jesus loves to interrupt funerals. In Jesus’ hands, he turns stretchers into worship celebrations. He grabs hold of your stretcher and tells you to live again. Can you hear the voice of the one who raises the dead? He’s calling to you right now: Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. (Ephesians 5:14)”