Epiphany 4: Mark 1:21-28
I recall a Wizard of Id Sunday comic strip. One Sunday morning Rodney, the king’s night servant noticed the king was in a blue mood and suggested, “Sire, perhaps you’d feel better if you went to church.” So the King and Rodney headed off to the Church. When they arrived, they noticed the title of the day’s sermon on the church sign which read: “The Evils of Greed.” The King turned to Rodney and said, “What’s playing at the Presbyterian?”
Isn’t that so human? We eschew the uncomfortable.
In the same vein, the man with the evil spirit didn’t much like having Jesus around and told him to go away. Sometimes when our defensiveness or anger escalates there may be something within pushing us that we might benefit from looking at.
We get information that we don’t like and just like the King, our instinct is to “change that channel.” And the weakness continues to live within us waiting to arise again another day.
I recall a couple of summers ago. Vandals were stealing purses and other items out of people’s vehicles. The police department advised us to not leave our windows open or our cars unlocked else we be broken into.
I remember Jesus telling a story about a householder who if he had known when the thief was coming, would have kept watch and not allowed his house to be broken into. Sometimes we just get careless about our vehicles and homes…and about our souls.
Such is the subject today: Is it possible to be possessed by evil? OK, now it’s time to get that channel changer and change the channel to a little bit happier subject.
After all, evil is one of those creepy dark sludgy things that we just can’t get our heads around and it’s something that we can rarely if ever control—why?
Because evil is subject only to divine intervention—to help from above. Paul in Ephesians 6, through his own experience tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of darkness and against the spiritual forces of evil. These forces of evil, if we are subjected enough to them can begin to gnaw away at our minds, hearts and begin to split our souls, causing chaos. Chaos is often a symptom of evil gaining a foothold.
To minimize evil or Satan as mere delusion or as something less than it is, leaves our car door unlocked and windows open to our inner world to compromise us.
Check on the chaos in your life—both inner and outer—and pray for the presence of God to come and in the words of Jesus, deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom and the Power…. God’s presence is rooted far deeper in the world than the chaos within or without can bear.
I remember on a healing retreat years ago I was praying for someone for healing and in the midst of the prayer, the woman began shaking and her personality changed like she was a different person. I had never experienced anything like this before. All I knew to do was to say God, take me over and manifest your healing power. I felt like a presence had filled me that rooted itself in me down to the earth’s core. And the words, not mine, but God’s, said in the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be healed. And in a matter of moments, the woman became still.
We’re all susceptible to absorbing evil, like we are the COVID virus. If we hang around the evil for too long we can get too much of its contagion within us often without our knowing it. If we’re steeped enough in the presence of God that can only come through a diet of ongoing prayer, we can sense evil and then distance ourselves from it—praying for the others and ourselves.
C.S. Lewis, who in his book, The Screwtape Letters, reveals how subtle, Satan is, being nicknamed the father of lies.
There is a lot of beauty in the world. There are also many lies floating around tempting us in areas of our lives where we are vulnerable and spiritually insecure.
Realize that Jesus doesn’t pass by the possessed man because he’s a living freak show. Jesus walks right up to him. Why? Because he loves him.
If Jesus loves the Gerasene Demonic, how much the more will he love us, even with all those inner warts, insecurities and chaotic places where evil has had its way with us? We too will often react by wanting to escape. Our initial reaction to “get away from me” due to the demon’s fear and shame which has its hold on us.
All we need to is to simply ask him one more time to come into our minds, hearts, wills and to make his home in our souls. That’s all we need do. He will take care of the rest.
Even though evil is deceptive, evil can never hold a candle to God. Honest.
The man healed from the unclean spirits will tell you this. So would the woman I prayed for in that healing service.