The Lonely Man
We learn about a lonely man in Luke 8:26-39. He's described as demon possessed, with strong language about running naked and hurting himself in the tombs of a graveyard. But despite this description of a crazy lunatic, he isn't that different than many people in Western culture.
He did't wear the appropriate clothing or live in the correct type of house, but instead chose to live among things that equate to death. When Jesus visits his living tomb, the man says three things. (1) What do you want with me, Jesus? (2) Jesus is the Son of the Most High God. And, (3) I beg you not to torture me.
Let’s start with the second one… It is not enough to know in your mind that Jesus is the Son of God. Christianity isn't the mental assent to truth, it's a change in the inclination of one’s heart. Western culture prides itself on intellect and reason. Despite its growing problems, it still thinks that the issues can be solved with science and education. But if education was the answer, why do we see increasing issues with race, poverty, exploitation, the environment, and a myriad of other things? If we have more knowledge than our ancestors, wouldn't the crime rates be decreasing? Or does it emerge that the core issue is something deeper than lack of insight?
The trap of the Western Christian is the belief that salvation comes when the mind accepts the truths about Jesus, that knowledge of doctrine will result in the convert joining their political party and rallying to their social causes. But if the mind was not the problem, is it wise to believe it's the solution?
The lonely man’s third question hints at the deeper issue… “God is out to get me.” There are many denominations that believe that poverty and self-abasement necessarily reflect piety. Like the man in the story, isolation—-from people or the Lord--can lead to a victim mentality. Instead of seeing that the Lord wants to help us, we can drift into thinking that our problems are actually the Lord’s will.
And so it's the man’s first question that leads us to the solution. These are the words that every true believer has spoken. Instead of focusing on ourselves or on our own pursuit of wealth and comfort, will we reach a place of asking the Lord what He wants to do with our lives?