Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought is an edited version of a QT blog that was first posted on August 30, 2013.
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“What is Demonic? Making Handsome Profits at the Expense of Demon-Possessed People”
Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. 34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
There is one topic many Christians rather not talk about: demons. Do they even exist? Harvard educated psychiatrist Scott Peck ruffled some feathers when he affirmed their existence in his 2005 books entitled, “Glimpse of the Devil.”
In our days, we distinguish between those who are demon-possessed and the demonized. To the extent that such distinction is valid, the demonic manifestation of the former condition may be more obvious, like the man in this passage, than the latter, which may be more subtle. But in both cases the evil spirit has one purpose in mind: “to destroy” the dignity of the one who has been created in God’s image (and destroy even animals).
Now, human life is incomparably more important than animals, yet, we are often confused as to what is important in life: many value financial gains over the welfare of the people (v. 37). Here, one likely reason the townspeople asked Jesus to leave was because they cared more about not losing additional animals than to help hurting people. The monetary loss was surely the reason certain men, who made “a great deal of money” through using their “slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future,” falsely accused Paul of doing wrong because the apostle had cast demons out of her (Acts 16:16-24).
Not much is different today, is it? For the sake of monetary gain, we put up with a distorted system in which people are exposed and exploited. Many in our society are like the herdsmen who think, “Why bother with this crazy man; as long as he is contained (being chained), that will allow us to focus on our (illegal) trade of raising pigs to sell the meat to the Jews.” The owners of the slave girl never once thought about the latter’s welfare; instead of being happy for her—now that she was made well—they were infuriated that they could no longer use her to make more money. Evidently, not only can people be demonized but the society itself as well!
Yet Jesus came to radically contradict and expose what we really value in life (v. 33). When the fullness of the Spirit’s presence manifests, we can see what’s really important in life: it certainly is not financial gains, especially at the expense of people. So, when John says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 Jn. 3:8), he is referring to what Christ has done to undo what the devil has done to individuals as well as the society in which we live.
What do you value? Do you long to see the recovery and healing to take place in the lives of those who have been created in God’s image? Or are people just a means to your financial gains?
Prayer: Lord, help me to rise above living according to “the pattern of this world” (Rom. 12:2). Lord, give me the discernment to see what’s really going on in people’s lives and in our society. Lord, use me as an instrument of recovery and healing instead of being devil’s pawn. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 21-22