In Mark 5, Jesus commanded a legion of demons to leave the body of a man they had been torturing, apparently for quite some time.
And when [Jesus] was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. – Mark 5:2-5
If you recall the rest of the story, Jesus commanded the demons to come out of the man and allowed them to possess a herd of pigs, whereupon the pigs ran down a cliff, into the sea, and drowned.
After the swineherds saw that, they ran to a nearby city and shared the tale of the incredible miracle – but not with joy, as the Bethlehem shepherds had done some three decades before, after an angel declared the news of Jesus’ birth to them.
Instead, the swineherds were troubled and afraid of what they had witnessed; and, upon hearing the news, the residents of the city were frightened as well. They sought out Jesus, and – instead of bringing their sick to him, worshiping him, or even thanking him – they asked him to leave.
And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. – Mark 5:15-17
It seems crazy that the residents of the area preferred the status quo, especially as they may have tried to help the demon-possessed man at one time. But after many failed attempts, they had become calloused to his terrible condition.
Then Jesus came along and entered the man’s life, changing him forever. Rather inconveniently, he entered the lives of those people as well.
It seems that they were afraid of what they did not understand. It was easier for them to dwell with the devil they knew, than to accept that something better might be in store for the demon-possessed man, and for themselves.
Their reaction may seem ridiculous – but really, is it that different from how I react to things that would disrupt my organized, sterile little life?
Reach out to the homeless person by the grocery store, and what might happen? Might I actually have to talk to him?
Make the time to write my book, and what then? Could it actually get published? What would I do if it did not get published?
Hand a tract to the angry girl behind the cash register, and what might she do? Read it? Throw it in my face?
So many times, in ways large and small, I reject change because it is disruptive. I cannot predict what will happen to me if I change the status quo.
I am afraid of being out of control. I am afraid of allowing more into a life that is already overflowing with busyness.
But then, when I consider Jesus, I admit that he was more often out of any sort of comfort zone than in one. He came to change the world, after all.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. – Luke 4:18-19
I pray that I will be able to shove aside the devil I know, and embrace the changes God may have for me.
How do you deal with change? When the Spirit stirs you to step out of your comfort zone, how do you react? I welcome your comments, which are always inspiring and encouraging.