…the Lazarus effect

There are many great things being done worldwide in the name of justice for all.  As our nation wrestles with health care reform, global climate reformation and an overall attempt to make life generally better for those without and for those to come, the One Campaign sent this great clip to me entitled “The Lazarus Effect.”  Which made me begin to think theologically about how the efforts of humanity are framed in this day and time.

The clip discusses how the One Campaign (and its emphases upon both public and private funding for AIDS relief to the many people-groups of third world Africa) has made a marked difference during the past five or so years.  I believe it truly has and for that I thank God! 

If in fact, as this film’s title implies, the effect is very much like that of Lazarus being resurrected from the dead, then where is Christ in all of this?  Does He need the credit?  Is He preferring to be unmentioned here?  Is He part of the collective whole in this human phenomenon?   I think Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has a lot to offer us here…

…by reminding us in Matthew 7: 21-27 that there are tremendous challenges in interpreting  the movements both of an organization/individual that selectively refers to Jesus in code AND to an organization/individual that refers to Jesus blatantly sans the courageous efforts to be Christ to the world.  On the one hand, there are those continuing to do great things to better our world while staying safely at a distance from “over-doing the Jesus thing.”  On the other hand, there are those that refuse to do so much as sneeze without giving Jesus the praise whilst watching and critiquing others in their efforts (in both cases – sad extremes).

Jesus tell those at the sermon on the mount, “‘We did these things in your name,’ but I will say to them, ‘I never knew you; GO AWAY from me, you evildoers.’   

What are we to make of this?  Are good deeds enough? – NO.  Is declaring Christ as Savior enough? – NO. 

This film interprets “The Lazarus Effect” to be resurrection from mere death.  In fact many are doing great things to save life in the lives of many.  Nothing could be more Christ-like than this!  Yet, Jesus is not once mentioned in this clip.  Should He have been? – IMHO, ABSOLUTELY!  But to critique this film too much only reminds me of my own sinful pointing. 

What must I do to remedy the disconnect?  I’m not always certain, practically speaking, but I DO KNOW THAT A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LIVING GOD MUST BE #1 ON THE LIST.  If we merely reference something God did, then we are making a critical mistake.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:21-27 that HE MUST KNOW US.  Consider Israel’s blunder against the Philistines in 1 Samuel. Also consider the separation of Adam and Eve from God at Eden.  Even when Mary and Joseph went a day or so without Jesus from Luke 2:41. 

Certainly, the Lazarus effect is God’s for His Glory…but, consider its worth if there is no relationship with the living Christ.  Will these effects remain eternally as God’s or will they be credited to a lesser yet honorable derivative like Lazarus?

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David A. Wofford

Serving Christ, proclaiming Resurrection, renouncing Evil.

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