The Christian life is a human exorcism in slow motion. Because the speed at which God delivers us from ourselves is often slow, we often miss what God is doing in our lives.
What would your life look like if you took it and sped it up so that a day passed in a second? If you could imagine this, a year would pass in about six minutes, and a lifetime of 80 years would pass before your eyes in about 8 hours. If you could see your life this way, what would it reveal?
For the man who was possessed by Legion, his deliverance came spectacularly and all at once – at least his deliverance from the demons. But for most of us, our deliverance from our being possessed by ourselves and from doing our will and not that of God is the long, slow path of the Cross.
You should think of the Old Man within you as being the demons that possessed this man. Even if very few of us are ever possessed by demons, we are all possessed to some degree by the flesh and the world and largely self-possessed. When we are born, we are born without clothes, both physically and spiritually. Spiritually, we are born in the tombs and will continue to dwell there until we accept God’s offer to deliver us from the tomb and come into His house. This is how the demoniac’s life relates to ours.
Initially, progressively, and finally Jesus cries out to our Old Man, “Come out!” Depending on the faithfulness of our response, we initially, progressively, and finally are delivered from the Old Man that possesses us. The Old Man is much more difficult to be delivered from than a demon. In fact, I believe that it is those who are more fully possessed by the Old Man who are more open to being possessed by demons.
Like this demoniac, we cry out when Christ commands the Old Man to come out. The Old Man has set up house within us and has gotten quite comfortable, thank you. He believes that you are his birthright and that he is your rightful owner, and he fights like a demon to stay where he is and not be cast out.
So when Jesus calls to you, “Give up yourself! Deny yourself!” we behave like the demons in this man. The Old Man in us says, “What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” When Jesus calls to us “Take up your cross! Follow me!” we say, “But I don’t want to. I want to keep on doing the things I’ve been doing that bring me pleasure. Go away and don’t torment me by asking me to give up the things I love that you hate.”
Unlike the demons, whom Jesus casts out in spite of their resistance, He desires us to willingly surrender to His will and offer ourselves up to Him. He commands us to give up ourselves and come to Him, and if we say, “No!” He might just let us have what we want!
Every day, in many ways, Jesus is calling you to give up yourself to Him and to be delivered from the Old Man. Every time we respond with obedience, choosing God’s will over ours, we are delivered a little more from the bondage to Self, who is the strongest and most dangerous demon of them all. Over time, a disciple of Jesus Christ should look less and less like one who is naked, living in the tombs in the wilderness, alone and tormented and more like one who is clothed and in his right mind and looks like his Master.
It’s funny, but even in my sweet kids I see this same picture. When Jackie or I give one of our kids a commandment to obey, sometimes they act like this demoniac. They find ways of saying, “No!” and kicking and screaming (not literally). Sometimes they appear to be out of their minds and are very industrious in transforming molehills into mountains. They resist and assert their wills and can become ugly creatures, temporarily.
But when they have calmed down, I often tell them that I’m glad they’re “clothed and in their right minds.” In that state, I can speak the words of God to them, and they are more likely to respond.
And so our lives are to look more and more like this man after his demons were exorcised and less and less like him when Legion was still with him. Christian discipleship is a human exorcism in slow motion, and when we have been delivered, we too should go on our way, filled with joy and telling others what God has done for us.
Consider beginning a spiritual journal. You’d be surprised what a faithful record of your life with God will show you about how God has worked in your life and even exorcised it!
Resolution: I resolve to find one area of my life where the Lord commands “Come out!” and to give that selfish part of me to Him to be cleansed.
© 2015 Fr. Charles Erlandson
Category: Give Us This Day