Friday, July 23, 2010
The Vision (7/23/10): The Call to Stay Home
Note: This article is part of The Vision is the weekly e-newsletter of Christ Reformed Baptist Church. To be added to Vision list, send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have long been intrigued by the gospel account of the healing of the Gadarene demoniac (references will be to Mark’s account in Mark 5:1-20). This man lived “among the tombs” and was possessed of an unclean spirit (v. 2). He would break the chains that were used to bind him, and no one could tame him (v. 4). Night and day he roamed the mountains and the tombs “crying out and cutting himself with stones” (v. 5). Yet when he saw Jesus he threw himself at his feet and worshipped him (v. 6).
When Jesus asked the name of the evil spirit that had set up shop in this man’s soul, he answered, “My name is Legion; for we are many” (v. 9). Jesus granted their pitiful request to be sent into the unclean swine, and the herd promptly “ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea” (v. 13).
The townsfolk who came out to investigate were startled to see the formerly wild man “sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid” (v. 15). They then pleaded with Jesus to leave their region (v. 17).
The most striking detail of the narrative just might be the ending. As Jesus gets in the boat to depart, the healed man “begged Him that he might be with Him” (v. 18). Jesus, however, did not permit this. Instead he offered the man a commission to stay at home: “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (v. 19).
I have heard many missionaries over the years speak of their call to leave their home culture to go to another culture to preach the gospel. This account reminds us that sometimes the call of Christ is for us to stay in our home culture. I remember once hearing a missionary in Eastern Europe tell of getting a call just after the fall of communism from an American pastor offering to come over and bring a group from his church to distribute tracts and do street evangelism. The missionary asked in return, “Tell me, have you and your church been doing this kind of work in the town where you live?” There was a long silence on the other end of the line.
Some of us will be called to go to faraway places to serve the Lord. Others of us will have much more mundane callings. Have we spoken to our friends, family members, and neighbors of what the Lord has done for us? Do they know of the Lord’s great expression of compassion for us?
The account of the Gadarene demoniac ends with this report: “And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all the things that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled” (v. 20).
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle