Wouldn’t it be nice if the Bible made a concession so we could all just live out a quiet and private faith and not have to reconcile, or witness to our family, friends and neighbors. We could just take the occasional short-term mission trip, minister to complete strangers that we’ll never see again, and go back to our quiet, comfortable lives. Unfortunately, nowhere in scripture does that seem to be Jesus’ idea.
In Luke 8, Jesus is going across the Sea of Galilee into Gentile country for some post-ministry decompression. When he gets there he is met by a man who has been possessed by a legion of demons and who has been ostracized by his community. This possession likely didn’t happen overnight. Demon possession begins when you give the devil a foothold and progresses one compromise after another into rebellion after rebellion. This man’s life was marked by anger, rage, fear, violence, and hatred. He had no doubt caused a lot of hurt and the demon possession just brought it all to a whole other level. His family, friends and neighbors, in response, had rejected him, attempted to bind him, and ostracized him. These hurt people caused hurt in return and perpetuated the problem.
Jesus enters the picture, frees the man from the demonic and completely transforms him. He is no longer naked and raving mad, he’s seated and in his right mind, and the people who come to see are terrified. They’re afraid of him when he’s a demoniac, and their terrified when he’s transformed into a right thinking person…likely because, as godless idolaters, they were somewhere in between themselves. When Jesus transforms you, the people who know you — who really think they know (or knew you) — will not always see or accept what’s happened to you…especially if you were responsible for causing hurt.
As Jesus is leaving, at the behest of the townspeople, the man begs to go with Jesus. He can follow Jesus around for a little while on a short-term mission trip, share his story with people who he’ll never see again, and then go make a nice quiet life for himself somewhere and live his private faith. Nope. Jesus sends him back to his household — his family, friends and neighbors — to go tell them of what God has done for him. Go back the the people who are so intimately acquainted with your failures, shortcomings, and wickedness. Go back to those you hurt and abandon. Go back to those who rejected and abused you. Go back there and tell those people about the mercy, grace, and power of God to restore. As you do, ask forgiveness, and offer the same and watch God continue to lavish mercy, grace, and restoration as he heals these broken relationships. Will it be easy? Most likely … not a chance! Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. Don’t worry about what to say, it will be given to you in the moment. Persevere when men speak evil against you on account of Christ. In all humility consider the needs of others as more important than your own. These are what the Bible teaches us…and privacy doesn’t seem to make the list.
We will never see the power of God to transform our world if we remain disobedient and stay within the pathetic limitations of where we’re comfortable. Go back to your household — your family, friends, and neighbors — and tell them of what God has done for you!