1And he went to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. 2Right when he got out of the boat, he was met by a man with an unclean spirit who came out from among the tombs. 3The man lived in the tombs, and neither chains nor anything else could bind him, 4because he had been bound with shackles and chains, and he broke the chains and shattered the shackles, and nobody could control him. 5Night and day he would be among the tombs and in the hills screaming and cutting himself with rocks. 6And when he saw Jesus from a long ways away, he ran and bowed to him, 7and shouted, “What is there between us, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, don’t torment me!” 8For Jesus was saying to him, “Unclean spirit! Come out of the man!” 9And he asked it (the spirit), “What is your name?”
And it said, “My name is legion, for we are many!” 10Then it begged him many times not to send him out of the region.Â Â Â Â Mark 5:1-10 (HN)
There are many lessons that can be drawn from this particular occasion, and I’m only looking at the first half of the story today.Â Don’t worryâ€”the demon loses! What struck me about this story as I read it this morning is the incredible difference between the way Jesus confronted evil and the way we do, especially in the church.
Why are afraid of evil?Â We are afraid that the wrong type of young people will have a bad influence on â€œourâ€ young people, so we avoid having them in the church.Â We are afraid that people who have been addicted or oppressed by sin will revert to their old ways, so we avoid making use of them in ministry.
The bottom line, I think, is that we don’t really believe the gospel message.Â We don’t believe that if we present Jesus Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit, that lives will be changed.Â We trust much more in laws, police forces, and in keeping our distance.
But Jesus really believed the message that he proclaimed.Â He knew that evil was going to have to flee.Â He knew that healing was possible, so he wasn’t afraid to go out and confront evil.
If we start to believe the gospel message, that Jesus provides healing and restoration, that addicts can be set free, angry people can find forgiveness and reconciliation, that lives can be changed, then it will start to happen.Â We won’t have to have a complex program (though a plan would be nice).Â We just need to be there.
Can you be the presence of Jesus in your workplace or any where else God sends you today?