A look at this Scripture passage from Mark 5:1-17 in my Missional Preaching class has had me thinking since last Tuesday. In the passage, Jesus encounters a man who is possessed by many demons (Legion). The man is a raving lunatic because of this possession. He lived among the tombs and no one could bind him. Even when the townsfolk used a chain and shackles, the man would break free. He would cut himself with stones and was clearly a danger to himself and those around him.
When the man encountered Jesus- the demons realized who Jesus was and the power Jesus had. The demons asked to be cast into the herd of pigs that was nearby. Jesus gave the demons permission and they entered the pigs and the herd (numbering 2,000) rushed over a cliff and into the sea where they drown.
The formally demon possessed man was know in his right mind as the town folk came out to see what had happened. When the town folk realized that they had lost their pigs, their source of food and income, they told Jesus to leave.
Here are some thoughts on the passage…
1. The townfolk wanted their pigs more than they wanted transformation. Seeing the demoniac transformed and in his right mind had to be an amazing sight. Yet, there was fear in the midst of transformation. The people would rather have the status quo (pigs and a lunatic in the graveyard) than transformation (no pigs and a transformed man).
2. More people likely needed to be transformed in that town. There may not have been more demon possessed people, but surely there were sick and crippled people who were in need of healing. The fear that the town felt at the loss of their pigs and the transformation of the demoniac took away any opportunity for Jesus to transform other lives in the town.
3. How many times does fear keep us from being transformed? This could be a personal question and a question to ask our churches. How often do we tell God, “I don’t know if I can give that up?” or “We’ve never done it that way before” ? Fear can keep us from experiencing the freedom that God has come to give us. Do we like our pigs more than a transformed life? Are we too comfortable with our ‘little sins” and thus are unable to experience the fullness of a relationship with God?
The Church is to call people to Jesus Christ in order to experience holistic transformation in the lives of those who come through our doors. There should be constant change in the midst of our congregations! Change should happen in our lives…and because change is happening in our lives it will change the way we worship- and it’s all because of Jesus! Rather than fearing change, our prayer for our lives and our churches should daily be asking God to change us, transform us into God’s image. That is a change we can all hope for!