Running with the Wrong Crowd: The Disturbed Luke 8:26-39

Head AroundLetterman said, “You might be possessed if sparks fly out of your mouth when you hiccup or if you don’t need a rearview mirror to see the car behind.”  Eugene Lowry said, I don’t believe in the devil, and furthermore I wish he would leave me alone!  We would like to think this demon-possessed man is a strange story and has little to do with us.  When we take a closer look at this encounter with this disturbed man, we see how God might use us if we’re willing to go with Jesus into the wrong crowd.

Jesus and the disciples disembark from their boat on the Sea of Galilee.  He just ordered the winds and waves to stop; showing he isn’t just a teacher that helps us cope with things beyond our control.  Jesus has power to change things beyond our control that control us. Gerasene Demoniac

We see what Jesus can do in the wrong crowd as he meets this man of the city who no longer resides in his home.  This man has come apart; lost control of himself.  It’s hard to be an upstanding member of the community when you sleep among the dead and can’t keep your clothes on your torso.  This man’s body was now a tomb, which demons made their home.

We know this man.  He’s the person we once knew who is now someone we never knew.  Persons who live in a disturbed state feel like they live in a cemetery.  So, we do all we can to help them get the help we cannot give.  We work hard to keep them from hurting themselves or others.  They take meds, receive counsel, rest, pray, and learn patience; hoping that what disturbs their very existence will settle them one day.

Mental illness is a mysterious disease that doesn’t come from one bolt of cloth.  It’s very scary for all who suffer from its effect and to those who care for them.  Sometimes people are mentally ill and function fairly well, though inside they feel they’re dying.  There is dementia, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, and other diagnoses.  Alzheimer disease creates many of the same dynamics as traditional mental illnesses.  It leaves us feeling confused about our loved one and unsure what we are to do with them,  It is hard to look into eyes, which once danced with joy upon seeing us, and now see something that looks like a neon vacancy sign.

Inside OutWe don’t know if this Gerasene man was mentally ill or demon-possessed.  The ancients only knew one cause – demons.  Any of us can be possessed by foreign and unholy powers, which we internalize into our being.  When we think we are defined by what is outside of us, it’s usually not outside of us.  It’s usually something inside of us that has occupied us.

Addictions possess us; invading our bodies and souls like an army; dividing us from within and without.  When we misuse substances we become separated from our will; robbed of our freedom and ability to judge.  Possession happens when we allow another person to introduce us to priorities, which compete with our best interest.  Worrying what others think, ceasing to be ourselves, or trying to please those who need to control us for their purposes all are things that can possesses from the inside.

It’s unnerving to live in a disturbed state or relate to disturbed persons.  It causes us to feel like we’re running with the wrong crowd.  While we moderns have a broader understanding of the human condition, we aren’t entirely different than they; we too set the disturbed aside.  The disturbed go along willingly; thinking they are not worthy to be in the right crowd.  Besides, we’re not sure if those who are disturbed will get better, we feel impotent and incapable in their presence. Legion

Jesus comes to this disturbed man who family, friends, and even himself had written off says there is no degree of being so disturbed that a person is beyond the reach of the grace of God.  Jesus says, “What is your name?”  The reply is, “Legion”, which means, “We are many”.  A Roman Legion was a garrison of 6,000 armed men.  Jesus recognizes an occupying force named Legion is about to undergo war with the invading powers of the grace of God.

All of us are called to be present with the disturbed for there’s no such thing as having gone too far.  This week and in coming weeks, Luke tells of Jesus in Gentile territory; pointing that Jesus goes anywhere to liberate those possessed by occupying powers. Luke’s gospel was written years later to speak a word to early followers of what it means to be the church in the world.  Luke brings a reminding word to his readers who think nothing can be done for those who are possessed by a power within.  He prevents them and us from writing anyone off as beyond help.  The story asks us to examine our tendency to quarantine people in our own version of a Gerasene cemetery, creating for them a less than fully human existence.

Gone too farAll of us need some form of healing from within; none of us have come together perfectly.  This story reminds us the power of Christ at work within us can free us from any alien power.  At times, God uses good medicine and counselors.  Other times, but not often, it happens quickly.  When it does happen like a miracle, we are allowed to see God speed up time in making things new.  Most of us have to wait patiently while Christ’s works within us; trusting redemption is coming on a coming day.

Thus, none of should be a part of any activity that denies the power of the Good News.  If Jesus can transform our lives, he can do the same for anyone.  Jesus’ can make whole any person who has been separated by any manner of divisiveness people suffer; whether what has happened to them by their own doing or it was done to them.  The power to liberate is not ours.  We know One in us has the power to work miracles through us.  God’s power that has been effective in us can be effective in any other person if we will be the presence of Christ in their midst.

We’re to liberate people from any unholy power.  We’re to go to the tombs where wrong crowds reside isolated in ignorance, hopelessness or poverty.  We declare Jesus’ saving power can change those who’ve been written off; not fearing their differences, but embracing them with a love that has the power to bring change.  Jesus’ clarion call sounds a hopeful voice to the suffering; declaring all can be made well by the power of Christ. Change we can believe

LifeNet Community Behavioral Healthcare is our area’s largest provider of services to the indigent, homeless, and mentally ill.  They say its greatest challenge is finding housing for their clients.  No one wants “those kinds” in their back yard.  Can we imagine the Jesus who stepped into anyone’s backyard saying, “Not in my back yard?”  Let us refuse to join the NIMBY crowd (Not in My Back Yard); and follow Christ into the wrong crowds; believing we can make the presence of Christ known in every place we go.

Destination HomeDallas County has more than 5,000 chronically homeless.  Destination Home services 133 people; including an increasing number of disabled veterans.  Each one participating in Destination Home works closely with a Case Manager to transition out of homelessness and into self-sufficiency.  They receive help with budgeting, employment, applying for benefits, connecting with mental health and substance abuse support services, and additional resources specific to that neighbor’s goal.  The program is unique because it doesn’t require certain standards like: drug testing, sobriety, and recent history of mental stability.  They have found that a stable living environment is the launching pad for dealing with their life-long legions of issues that possess those they serve

Church, let’s run with the wrong crowd; offer ourselves freely because we refuse to set anyone aside.  We will believe in them, but most importantly we believe in the life changing power of our Living God.  With no apologies to the Beatles: Let us come together for the sake of those who need to come together right now, over HIM”.Come Together

Published in: on June 17, 2013 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

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