“When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.”
(Luke 8:27-37 ESV)
The townspeople were used to this crazy, demon-possessed man living among their tombs. They were familiar with his shrieking, his lack of clothing, his astounding strength. They had a plan: when the demons seized him, they called in the guards and tied him down. Yes, he broke loose, but then he'd go off into the desert for a while. The system seemed to be working for them.
Nevermind the fact that this man was tormented, that he had legions of demons inside of him. The people were used to his pain. Maybe they felt no fear because they were so used to the evil.
But then, Jesus. He delivered this man, caused the demons to inhabit pigs. The man put on clothes. He was sane again. He sat at his Savior's feet, whole and complete and no longer tormented. And this, this scared the people. They had become so used to, so numb to the evil that the power of God and the lack of evil in their midst scared them. Jesus scared them. So they asked him to leave, and He did.
This sounds familiar to me; our society is so warped, so used to evil in all its many forms, that it's the good - the holy, the pure, the righteous, in short: God - that scares us. It's so far from the norm for us that it makes us uncomfortable, and we ask to be left alone. And so, in many ways, we are.
It makes me think of Halloween coming up. The holiday devoted to evil has become familiar to us; we have made it into family fun and we have made the scary things in the world into part of the game.
And let's make it personal, too: in what parts of my life have I allowed the evil or the ungodly to become the norm? What parts of my life have I chosen to allow to remain among the tombs because it's what I'm used to? What parts would the Lord like to touch, to change, to transform if only I would ask Him? Do I fear the unfamiliar holy more than the familiar evil? Do you?
Lord, let us be like the delivered man in this story, choosing to venture out with You into the unknown and holy, leaving behind the familiar evil. Let us never allow our fear to get the better of us, to cause us to ask You to leave us alone. May we always choose You. In Jesus' name, amen.