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Luke 8:26-39, Rocking the Status Quo

Key Verse

When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’
— Luke 8:28

RCL Daily Devotion for Sunday, June 23, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Dr. Kimberly Leetch from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

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Main Idea: Jesus was not content with the status quo, when keeping things the same was unhealthy for everyone.

This text sounds hauntingly familiar. Only today we might call the man’s affliction “mental illness.” This sounds an awful lot like untreated schizophrenia to me – the violence, the need to be bound for his own protection and others’, the many voices speaking inside his head. They had no treatment for this in Jesus’ day. To exile and bind him was likely a mercy.

But Jesus wasn’t content to let this torment him any longer. Whether you prefer to call this demons or mental illness, it is clear Jesus wanted to set the poor man free. Jesus made it a practice to approach the unapproachable, to heal the unhealable, and to love the unlovable. It gives me courage to face, rather than run from people who suffer afflictions of body, mind, or spirit. All are equally deserving of Jesus’ and our love and attention.

Now, you might think that the townsfolk who had been plagued by the presence of this man filled with demons would be happy that he was finally healed. But the healing came at a cost. The demons were cast out of the man and into swine, who promptly ran off a cliff. Ok, so it could be a bit disconcerting and inconvenient to lose the swine. But maybe there’s more going on here.

There’s an interesting phenomenon (it’s called co- dependence), that when one ill person becomes well, it sends those around them spinning out of control. People in relationships are like a baby’s mobile. Over time, all the people learn their roles in keeping the mobile stable. When one person in the family system changes, even when it’s from illness to wellness, the whole mobile is thrown off balance. As human beings are drawn to keeping the status quo, often families work hard to steady the mobile, even if it means keeping the sick person sick. Because at least the sickness is familiar, and they have learned how to cope with it. Wellness is a whole new ballgame, and everyone has to learn new roles, which can be jarring and uncomfortable.

This town was a well-balanced system. The demoniac was sick, crazy, tormented, but at least they could keep him in chains. They knew where he was and where he wasn’t. They knew that the man would suffer in this way until his death. But all of a sudden, Jesus blew into town and changed everything. Now the man was healed – what in the world would they do with him? All the townsfolk already had their roles and their system was balanced. Would they give him a job? Could they continue to exile and bind him, now that he was in his right mind? Besides losing their swine, they now had to learn new roles. They had to learn to care for this man in ways they never had before. The whole nasty business shook them to the core.

People might like the status quo, but Jesus does not. Jesus has no problem throwing us off our game. Jesus won’t stand for complacency. There is always work to be done, more to learn, new systems to conquer. Whenever we find ourselves spinning out of control, we might ask ourselves, “What changed? Can I learn to live with the new reality if the new reality is healthier than the old? How can I reposition myself in the system so everyone can live healthier? What can I learn about the new situation and my role in it? How can I adapt?”

 

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Luke 8:26-39

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