Thursday, July 26, 2012

Two Worlds, One God

22 One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger.”

26 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.”
(Luke 8)

One of the things I love about the Word is, no matter how many times I read a passage, there’s still more there to see, more to learn, more gold to mine from it.  Luke 8 is turning out to be a rich strike.  Here we have two incidents: the calming of the storm and the healing of the Gerasene or Gadarene demoniac.  Two examples of Christ’s power and authority.  One over the elements, over the world without, over the conditions, circumstances, trials and storms surrounding us.  One over the world within, the devils, temptations, sins and trials and storms that rage across the surface of our souls.

First the world without.  Disease, economy, joblessness, relationships, families, live long enough, pay attention and you will get pummeled in all these areas.  How are we going to pay for this?  Why must I be alone?  Why must they leave?  How are we going to make it through this?  Lord, why cancer?  Why cancer again?  Why hospice?  Lord, we’re drowning in debt?  Lord, we’re losing her!  We’re losing him!  He’s totally turned his back on us and You and we don’t know what to do!  And these are just the fears and worries of a first world nation.  Talk to our Christian brothers and sisters in China, Nigeria, Russia and the middle East and the fear of persecution, prison and death make the cry,“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” a bit more authentic.  It is very easy to believe that Jesus is asleep at the wheel, doesn’t care or worse, is just a good teacher.  A prophet, maybe, but the all-powerful Son of God?  C’mon.   

Then there’s the world within.  We are born depraved.  We are raised up by people who at best, war with their own selfish, ingrown, depraved natures to provide for us but our best attempts at love are only transactional manipulations to get love.  Which only provides the illusion of love.  Not true love.  Not true communion.  We are driven by our desires.  We are driven by our lusts.  We are driven by our fears.  Driven by our needs to solitary places.  Where eventually we succumb.  Entropy is a spiritual law too.  Disillusionment becomes cynicism, cynicism becomes bitterness, bitterness despair.  Spoiled becomes egocentric, egocentric becomes narcissistic, narcissistic delusional.  Insecure becomes anxious, anxious becomes full of fear, fear is a tyrant.  We are witnessing the effects of this across our culture, across our world.  When we deny God’s authority, we are free to fill the vacuum.  When we elevate ourselves to godhood, nothing we do is wrong.  Our whims, our desires, our lusts, our depravity, our demons rule.

But Jesus.

Jesus can sleep in a storm because he knows who his Father is.  He knows who rules the deep.  Who rules the winds.  He knows his mission, his purpose and whom he serves.  He knows nothing can stand in the way of Him.  He even knows should the waves overcome the boat, should they sink, should they die, His Father is able to overcome death!  Overcome physics!  Who knows?  If the disciples had instead of waking Jesus in a tizzy, had knelt and prayed, the storm would not have ceased?  If the boat though it sunk, they would have rested upon the waves as if they were solid?  If the water would not have parted and they walked to the Gadarenes?  If they would not have been lifted in the Spirit to dry land?  If they would not have died and found themselves alive anyhow on shore?  The question Jesus asks upon rebuking the wind and sea is telling, “Where is your faith?”  Is it in oars and sails, sweat and blood, in flesh?  Is it in the world you can see?  Or is it somewhere the winds and waves cannot touch?

And how often must the naked man have cut himself among the bones of the dead and cried out for deliverance, even death?  How deep was his despair?  How hopeless was his situation?  All internal though it was?  Was he a Jew?  Did he know God?  How often do we who know Christ as Savior wonder when we will be free of our sin?  How many times must we fall prey to the same temptation?  Will God ever give us victory over this?  How can I be a child of God and still struggle with This??  If Jesus came to us in our low moments and asked us our name, asked who we are, would we answer, “unworthy,” “ashamed,” “fallen,” “wretched,” “adulterer, murderer, pervert, child of wrath, drunkard, sluggard, Legion!”? 

But Jesus.

Casually, dismissively, with nary a wave of his hand, heals us, cleanses us, forgives us, restores us!  Look at the cross!  This is our God!  This is what He has done!  The man we worship, this Jesus, is the same today as he was then! 

It is paramount, imperative, absolutely essential then we understand a few things more!  These revelations of who Jesus is come in storms!  They come in despair!  God is not afraid of what horrifies us, nor is He afraid to use it for His purposes.  Storms don’t mean judgment for the believer!  They might mean discipline but the message is always the same, “Where is your faith?”  Do you live for this life or the next?  Do you think you have to be pure to be loved or do you believe you were made pure because you were loved?!

Second, God is not obligated to calm our storms, to drive out every demon from our lives.  He showed His power then so we could have faith in Him now!  Only He knows the end from the beginning.  The thief on the cross wasn’t magically teleported down from it when he believed in Jesus.  He died with his legs splintered from a hammer and his lungs filling with water.  As far as we know, all the disciples were martyred and it’s a pretty safe bet, most of them sinned right up until the axe fell.  God is concerned with our comfort and He understands our fear but He has a far different view of it than we.  And He will gladly sacrifice our temporary, hundred years of earthly happiness and contentment for an eternity of mind-blowingly-boffo-boggling bliss with Him!  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!  And praise Him who alone what Blessing is doth know!

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