Unwrapped and Turned Loose


One of my favorite metaphors from the life of Jesus appears in John’s narrative of the raising of Lazarus. Jesus stands outside the Lazarus’ tomb and gives His beloved friend’s corpse an authoritative call to life and a commanding call to action: “Lazarus, come out!”

The cadaver responds, and Lazarus emerges from the tomb alive.

But he’s quite encumbered, restricted, hindered, and inhibited by his burial wrappings. He’s been freed from the grave, but is still bound by his grave clothes

Jesus doesn’t tell Lazarus to free himself from his grave clothes.

Jesus doesn’t do anything directly to remove them.

Instead, Jesus calls Lazarus’ relatives and friends into action: “Unbind him, and let him go.”

So, freeing Lazarus from the captivity of his death wrappings turns out to be a community project.  And so it is with us. When Jesus calls us from our spiritual graves to new life, suddenly we are no longer corpses. We emerge from our tombs very much alive to God.

But, like Lazarus, we find that we’re still wrapped up tight in our death rags. We’re still confined by our burial wrappings–old habits, old behaviors, old patterns of thinking, old wounds—and we’re not able to freely move about. All these restricting sheets and cloths and strips are part of our grave wardrobe, and we need to be unbound in order to walk freely in our new life.

We can’t free ourselves, so Jesus calls us to find freedom in spiritual community. In community, we are to help each other get unwrapped, unbound and set free. And the freer we are from our own wrappings, the better able we are to help loose others from theirs.

I’ve been part of communities where we were all pretty incapacitated by our own grave clothes, and were not very helpful to each other in the liberation process. I regret to say that I’ve been in communities where we contributed to each others grave apparel, applying additional tomb-wrap to our neighbors. During that part of my spiritual journey, it was pretty slow-going as I hopped and shuffled along, bumping into things because of the shroud that was obstructing my vision.

In recent years, though, I have become less encumbered on my journey as I’ve entered into the liberating spiritual community of those who themselves have been freed through the ministry of others.

We all need to receive and to give the gift of unwrapping. Are you part of a liberating spiritual community?

6 thoughts on “Unwrapped and Turned Loose

  1. Ah, Dave, you continue to put thoughts into prose in such a grand way!

    Your God-given talents are being utilized for sure.

    Press on Pilgrim!


  2. Hey Uncle Dave! Love this post- I feel like I’ve been in each of those type of communities; the one that helps take off the grave clothes and ones that have seemed to pull them tighter. It’s such an amazing blessing when the people I surround myself with help me regain freedom in my life. Thank you for this message today and actually helping me realize how blessed I am with my current community of people who help, not hinder, my growth from past grave clothes.

    • Hey, Amy! Thank you for your comments. It’s strange how we can get wrapped up tight in our own religious activity, instead of walking in the freedom Christ offers in relationship with Him. Thanks for reminding me to be thankful for those who “help, not hinder” my own growth.

  3. Uncle Dave you have spoken truth yet again in such a way that it can not be ignored. Thank you so much for such a great reminder. Thank you and your family for being one of the liberating communities that I am a part of! I love getting to look around me and see what type of communities I’m in! 🙂

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