Begged Him to Depart

Comfortable in my faith…yeah, this is Jodi in a nutshell.

I\’m currently reading \”Recovering Jesus\” by Thomas Neufeld, a newish book that looks at the Biblical Jesus. One thing that caught my eye is the notion that Jesus came to upset the status quo and to reach out to those oppressed by the status quo. This is not a new idea, altogether, as I\’ve heard time and again that the status quo maintainers of the time were the religious elites, the Jewish leaders–they were threatened by Jesus\’s radical teachings and outlandish assertions and boy, were they upset, so much so that they worked hard to silence Him, permanently. Then, of course, we see Jesus reaching out to the oppressed, the downtrodden, the marginalized peoples, in hopes of bringing them healing and hope, like REAL healing and REAL hope.

What caught me offguard was that Neufeld mentioned this idea in conjunction with the Gergesene demoniac story, found in Matthew 8. After freeing two \”exceedingly fierce\” and dangerous demon-possessed men from the grip of Satan and letting the demons enter pigs, (which proceeded to run headlong into the sea) the \”whole city\” came and \”begged Him to depart from their region.\” The status quo in this story is not the religious leaders, it is the regular, run of the mill town folk. Jesus came outta nowhere, heralded unheard of power, brought freedom and healing and they couldn\’t handle it, wouldn\’t handle it. They wanted no more of the same, it was too far outside their way of life, too far to stretch. They couldn\’t control Him, they couldn\’t contain Him, they wouldn\’t even try to understand Him, they just asked Him to leave…it was \”too much, too much\” as my late G\’mo (grandmother) would say…

In reading this I got all puffed up and self-righteous and thought how stupid the people were. Didn\’t they realize they were rejecting the Savior of the world, the one who desired to heal them and make them whole? The One they should be begging to stay? What in the world could have made the entire city come out to Him and ask Him to leave like that? Then it hit me, their motivation was probably in line with my own…I\’m the same as they…I like things the way they are and step back whenever God comes in ways I cannot, do not understand, ways that upset my status quo. When I pray things change, so what do I do? I avoid prayer…why? Because things come along that I don\’t understand, that I can\’t control, that reveal dark places inside me, things I can\’t see the outcome for, that even seem scary. They require more faith, more trust, more courage and all I see is the fear, not the Author of my life…not the One who is trying to form me into His likeness. I recoil and say, \”Yo, not right now…ain\’t ready…umm…maybe later, will see\”.

I\’m the status quo and then there are those who are oppressed by me, the status quo chick…those who should stay the way they are so I don\’t have to change, so my worldview doesn\’t have to shift, my faith is not challenged, so I don\’t have to budge. My world stays controlled, predictable and comfortable. I was flipping through the Psalms this a.m. and alighted on these words: \”When the ungodly man behaves arrogantly, the poor are set on fire\” (9:23a). YIKES!! What an image!! My lack of faith, my fear affects others adversely…I\’m not an island unto myself, others suffer and die because I puff up and keep God \’over there\’.

I hate to say it, but I suppose I have often, in my heart, \”begged Him to depart\”….

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