Monday, November 10, 2008

they begged him to leave...

I've had some pretty powerful moments in studying the scriptures as of late, so for the next couple of days I thought that I'd share some things I'm learning from Jesus.

In Matthew chapter 8 all sorts of people are getting into this Jesus movement: lepers, roman centurions, Peter's family, the disciples, the demon-possessed, even the wind and sea are exercising the reign of Jesus in all creation, but for one group of people things were different. The last story of the chapter has really gotten under my skin. The plot goes like this; Two demon-possessed men come out of some caves right outside a town. Jesus casts the demons into a herd of pigs who proceed to drown themselves. Shepherds run into town and tell everybody what happened and here's the last verse. " And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region."

All week I've been asking myself. "Why would they want Jesus to leave?" Sure the events of the day were scary, but two demon-possessed men were healed. That's good right? For some reason these people were more afraid of Jesus then they were of the evil in the midst. They were more comfortable with the demon-possessed living down the street than they were with the one sent to heal them. They were more comfortable with the evil in their midst than they were with the change it took to rid them of that evil.

Jesus' casting demons into the pigs threatened everyday life. The demon-possessed lived out of sight. But who in their right mind would ask the Great Healer to leave the region? Either people who were afraid that Jesus might be evil, because they didn't see the evil right in front of them or the townspeople were comfortable with the status quo, even if it included evil. Could it be that they were more willing to allow evil to exist down the street at the cave, than to let Jesus heal and change and usher in the kingdom in their city.

So I've had to start asking some tough questions in my own life. Do I love the status quo, the comfortable and predictable, with injustice more than I do the reality of Jesus bringing justice and wrecking my status quo? Have I, have we gotten comfortable with evil in our midst? Do I really want Jesus to come to town? Would it effect where I bought groceries? How I shopped for clothes? How I viewed possessions? Where I lived? Who I lived in community with? What I thought about everything from politics to pounds? Just questions. But I gotta wonder what systems of thinking and acting I've accepted because that's what you do.

I wrote down this prayer the other day after I meditated on this passage. I hope you find it encouraging.
"God help us reach across our discomfort to reach people you love. Come to town Jesus. Come to town. We welcome you, even if it means discomfort or wrecking our status quo. We ask. We seek. We knock. -Amen"