When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood.
UPDATE: My first draft of this devotional was published on the Sword of the Spirit website hours before the attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL on June 12, 2016. It was chillingly related to the underlying causes of the horrific mass shooting that happened just a short drive from where I am Pastor at Northland Church. The Orlando shooter had a history of domestic violence and mental instability – as in this original devotional – on top of ties to ideological extremism. We can also relate from this text that tolerating the status quo of gun violence as an accepted norm – over our fear of change – has grave consequences. Thank you for reading and your prayerful consideration of this difficult issue.
Many times people fear change more than they fear crazy. Here was a demoniac with super strength that could pose a direct threat on the neighborhood. But apparently, they had grown used to him. They could tell their children, “Stay away from the crazy guy” and live a fairly normal life. When Jesus cared more for his healing than He did for everyone else’s comfort and some livestock, people balked.
Recently, my wife was talking to a woman after church who was crying so hard it was difficult for Becky to understand her. It took her a while to hear that this woman had been dating a man with a mental illness and who physically abused her intermittently, but was kind to her sometimes. She had invested greatly in the relationship, yet he was now extending his debasement of her in other ways. Becky simply said, “You’ve got to end this relationship. He will not get help and neither will you while you are in it.” The woman promised she would, but Becky had the distinct feeling when the woman left that she feared change more than crazy.
Sometimes it is easier to heal the sick than it is to improve the people who’ve built a life around sickness. Even people who recognize Jesus for who He is, don’t want the peace that could come at the cost of the change it will demand. Our job as leaders is to work with those who want to get better and to pray for those who don’t.
Lord, help me not be afraid of any change that Jesus offers. Please give me discernment that helps me to care for those who want to get better and pray for those who don’t. Today, each list would include___________________.