God doesn’t call everyone to “GO”?

What are some of the creepiest stories that you have ever heard? Something I’ve noticed about “ghost” stories is that nearly all of them happen in isolation. The world is a scarier place for someone who is alone either physically or emotionally. For instance, I remember someone telling me the story of a big black dog with red eyes that haunted his house. There were nights when the dog would cause people who were alone in the house (or in one of its rooms) to act differently and times when friends corroborated this dog’s existence. Sometimes the dog was seen inside the house and sometimes outside. There was an empty room in the house that people were afraid to enter. They called the room the pit and the door stayed closed. This is not the creepiest story that I have heard, but it is at the top of my list and I believe the storyteller was genuine. I also believe that this is evidence of a certain human condition: we require maintenance. We were not designed to be alone.

  1. People who are alone fall apart, with or without supernatural help. We think a little too much about our failures, fall into depression, get bored, lack motivation, become unhealthy and so on.
  2. When people are not present in relationships, relationships fall apart.
  3. When people abandon places, those places become ghost towns.
  4. If creation is not maintained, it destroys itself.[1]

These things should not be a surprise to us. People wither and die without proper care. Gardens wither and die without the proper care. The universe is unpredictably horrifying if there is no one guiding it or holding it together. All of the sudden, commitment becomes a huge issue for our lives today. Without commitment people risk loneliness. Without commitment our communities, families and churches fail. Commitment is necessary in the Christian life.

Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. As soon as He got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met Him. He lived in the tombs. No one was able to restrain him anymore — even with chains — because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had snapped off the chains and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. And always, night and day, he was crying out among the tombs and in the mountains and cutting himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before Him. And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do You have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You before God, don’t torment me!” For He had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”

“What is your name?” He asked him.

“My name is Legion,” he answered Him, “because we are many.” And he kept begging Him not to send them out of the region.

Now a large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. The demons begged Him, “Send us to the pigs, so we may enter them.” And He gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs, and the herd of about 2,000 rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there. The men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon- possessed by the legion, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. The eyewitnesses described to them what had happened to the demon- possessed man and told about the pigs. Then they began to beg Him to leave their region.

As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon- possessed kept begging Him to be with Him. But He would not let him; instead, He told him, “Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.” So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.[2]

The misconception

            Here I want to draw our attention to two verses within this text. “But He would not let him; instead, He told him, ‘Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.’ So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed” (Mark 5:19-20 HCSB).

This man was full of demons. Jesus used His authority to bring the demons out of the man and the man wanted to follow Jesus. There is a great misconception within our churches today, and judging from this passage, it is a misconception that has always been around. The idea is that in order to follow Jesus, we must leave where we are and go. Go is a word that we always emphasize as a church. The only missions we care about are missions that are not based in our community. We give all of our money to foreign missionaries because they are doing God’s work and, for some reason, we do not care enough to see that the same work needs to be done where we are. One of the great misconceptions of the faith is that God never calls us to stay.

The truth

            Consider Jesus’ words to this formerly demon-possessed man. He actually did not allow the man to go where he was going. Instead, Jesus asked him to stay with his own people and to tell them how much God had done for him.

Here is the reality in our lives. If we are only concerned with going, then we are not concerned with staying. If we are not concerned with staying, then we are not concerned with doing God’s work here. The reality is that God does call people to stay and to live like a missionary in their communities. What better place for us to love people than in a community where we are already plugged in?

The challenge

            The call on our lives is simple.

  1. We live in community, keeping each other whole.
  2. We resolve to invest in our community, revealing the love of Christ to people who are not in church.
  3. We live like missionaries here until God calls us somewhere else (which He may or may not do).
  4. We realize that church life (and the Christian life altogether) is more about commitment and less about us getting our way. If I am ever angry with someone in the church, I realize that my commitment is still with the church and that is where my family is.

The greatest horror story for us is that the people of God would be so concerned with going elsewhere or being uncommitted that God’s work through them would die in their own communities. Let this never be us.

[1] www.icr.org/article/no-fruit-fly-evolution-even-after-600

This article shows that creation, when tested in a lab, shows no signs of self-improvement. When changes do occur, generations become more alike than past generations. If the world were left to its own devices, it would be very plain.

[2] Mark 5:1-20

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