Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Tormentor

And crying out with a loud voice, he said, What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me. -- Mark 5:7

I don't think that this is the demon talking -- not in the sense we would usually think of it.  How does a person become a demoniac?  My opinion is not always in keeping with orthodoxy, but I tend to doubt that it is the result of innocence combined with ignorance -- some child playing with a Ouija board.  It might begin innocently enough with someone seduced by the lure of pleasure or power, but there has to be a deliberate choice to embrace the dark lie at some point. 

This is a man who is hopeless, so much so that even the thought of hope is torment to him.  We sometimes encounter those -- perhaps we have been numbered among such ourselves -- who are so bound up in darkness and delusion that any crack of light is blinding, alien, and terrifying. 

People who have been imprisoned for a significant period of time may find the adjustment to freedom overwhelming.  Prison may not have been pleasant, but it was familiar.  The rules may have been horrific, but they were known and understood.  They are disoriented when allowed to move in a new dimension.  To understand the demoniac's reaction, we have to realize that he knew who Jesus was and what His presence meant. 

The lie of the devil is that -- for whatever reason, God has rejected us.  What, then, does God have to do with us?  We are outlaws, outcasts.  All we can do now is carry on our rebellion to the bitter end, not in hope, but in the name of defiance and a realistic assessment of our condition.  The only reason God would come to us would be to take us captive, torture and humiliate us.  We would be pulled into the harsh, unblinking light.  We would be transparent.  Where's the fun in that?  The darkness is where all the excitement and satisfaction are found.  Here in the shadows we may still play the game. 

I would guess that the path to demon-possession most often goes through self-deception, when a person buys into false views of God's love and grace.  Jesus seemed to encounter a lot of individuals who were afflicted and controlled by demons.  Maybe the legalism of the religious leadership contributed to misunderstandings.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17)

The Light of the World does not come to torment us but to show us the feeble chains that encumber us.  They are forged from darkness, and they must dissolve in the light of His everlasting love. 

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