Saved by Faith: The True Christian Attitude

John 11:1-45 has a lot to teach us about the type of attitude that will make us receive abundant blessings from our God. Very many times, people have come to me complaining that they are angry with God. At other times, parishioners have pointed out some people to me who were once very active in the ministries but who have stopped going to Church. In all these situations, when I ask, why, the answer I get always points to the fact that they were in a bad situation at some point in their life and cried to God for help but God never helped them. So, they got angry and stopped praying or going to Church or having anything to do with God again. Maybe their dear one was sick, maybe it was their parent, their grandparent, their child, their brother or their sister, and they prayed to God to restore them to health but God ‘allowed’ them to die. Maybe someone close to them had a fatal accident and died; maybe they lost their jobs; and sometimes it is one of those very tragic situations like Tsunami, earthquake or hurricane. Because they called on God at that painful and helpless moment in their lives and God did not answer them, they get angry and turn their backs on God. In the gospel of John chapter 11, Martha and Mary tell us that this is not the way to behave as children of God and followers of Jesus Christ.

As we enter into this wonderful story, we are told that Martha and Mary were sisters of Lazarus, and most importantly, they were all friends of Jesus. Luke 10:38-42 even tells us that Martha and Mary brought Jesus and his disciples into their home and gave them food. All these information is to tell us that they were as close as good friends could be. So, when their brother Lazarus took ill, they sent for their friend Jesus, because they knew he had the power to bring him back to health. But Jesus did nothing to help. He neither sent any reply to them nor showed up until Lazarus died. Four days after Lazarus was dead and buried, Jesus came to Bethany with his disciples to visit his friends who have lost their brother. Now, if you were Martha and Mary, what would you do to Jesus for abandoning you in your time of need when you had considered him to be a good friend? Well, as we see in the story, Martha and Mary were not angry with Jesus. They did not even ask him why he failed to show up when they sent for him. Instead they welcomed Jesus with joy and only regretted that he was not able to come when their brother was still alive. Instead of getting angry with Jesus, they remained calm and made a statement of faith as they came to the Lord. When Martha first met Jesus in John 11:21, she simply said, “Lord, if you were here, my brother would not have died.” When Mary came later to see him, she repeated the same statement of faith in John 11:32. They both respected him and still loved him even when he did not come to heal their brother until he died. This is a lesson for us to remain calm and faithful no matter how bad the situation may appear to be. Because of the faith they had in him, Jesus who revealed himself to them as ‘the resurrection and the life.’ He brought their brother back from death to life even when Lazarus had been in the grave for four days.

There is one statement that Jesus makes in this story that I would like everyone to take note. In John 11:40 he said to Martha, “If you believe, you will see the glory of God.” He did not say if you are angry or resentful or anxious or depressed or give up hope. But, “If you believe…” The bible says in Luke 1:37 that nothing is impossible for God. Yes, nothing is impossible for God but it is by faith that possibility occurs. In this story about the resurrection of Lazarus, God wants to open our eyes to see what he can do and the many blessings we stand to receive if we keep the faith and stop getting angry at every little instance when things do not go our way. People of faith are people who stand firm no matter the situation of things in their life. They are people who believe that no matter how bad it may be, God will see them through because he has the power and he cares for us.

There are many examples in the bible that teach us this lesson of faith and trust. For many years, Abraham remained faithful to God as a good friend even when he did not see any of the promises God had made to him. He did not complain; he only believed and his faith was eventually rewarded when God gave him a son in Genesis 21:1-3. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace, they did not lose their faith in God. They kept praising him in the heart of the flame and God brought them out safely because they remained faithful even in their pain. This is the same thing we see in Paul and Silas who were chained up in prison for casting out the demon from a possessed girl. Even in the prison, they were praising God until God broke the prison doors in the middle of the night and set them free.
Everyone knows that there are so many problems in the world. Of course, there have always been problems in the world. God is telling us in the story of Lazarus that he holds the key to life and death. He is telling us that there is nothing he cannot do. Whoever has a problem he considers to be insurmountable should place it before Jesus in faith and trust, like Martha and Mary. As we continue in our Christian journey, let us ask God to help us remain faithful to him no matter what may come our way until we reach our home in heaven.

Oh that today, you listen to his voice, harden not your heart!!!

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