“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” –Plato
People fear what they do not understand and hate what they cannot control. To me, that is probably the most straightforward statement describing the condition of our society today, as well as the unbelievers and religious leaders in New Testament times. How many occasions did the Pharisees attempt to catch Jesus in a crime? Over and over, they missed the message in the miracle because they were afraid of the influence Jesus had over people. They couldn’t manipulate God’s Son, so there was nothing left to do but frame Him and crucify Him. They thought they had overpowered the Savior, but their fear had made them nothing more than predictable, playing right into Christ’s nail-scarred hands. These leaders were like many of us -- accustomed to leading the way and getting their way. They weren’t looking to have their choices challenged.
Is the fear of change causing you to miss your miracle? Comfort and complacency can even cause us to fight against the giver of all good things – try to run Him out of town as the people did in the Gospel of Mark when the crazy man stopped acting crazy. Do you know the story?
A legion of demons possesses a man who is living among the tombs. Everyone thinks he’s nuts. He’s running around naked, moaning, wailing in agony, and cutting himself with stones trying to get some relief. Every time the townspeople try to restrain him, he busts out of the shackles and chains. No one can help him, so they leave him alone, the crazy guy living in the graveyard. Then Jesus stepped off the boat.
Naturally, the demons recognize the Son of God immediately and beg Him not to torture them. Now, stop right here for a moment. I do not want you to miss this -- Two-thousand demons are pleading with Jesus to go easy on them. The scary monsters were scared. It is the same in your life -- the things you may be afraid of are actually fearful of YOU because of the Spirit of God living inside of you. If you surrender control, the Miracle-Worker has already done the heavy lifting to free you from the torment of your circumstances, in your mind and emotions -- Herd of swine not necessary.
Jesus casts the demons into a farmer’s pen of pigs, causing them to jump off a cliff and drown. Suddenly, the crazy guy in the graveyard is “in his right mind (Mark 5:15).” When the people come to see what has happened, they witness the wild-man sitting calmly, having a rational chat with the disciples – and NOT in the nude. They are a little freaked out. Change is hard. Like today, they’re so accustomed to one way; they are apprehensive about even positive change. I call that destructive comfort.
Phrases like “That’s just the way I am” and “We’ve always done it that way” are the tongue’s declaration that we are settling into our systems and our sins. We may express our resistance to change in subtle ways, like being unavailable every time we are called on to serve in the church. Maybe we hang onto old buddies who are still hustling what we are healed from.
Have you gotten so used to the graveyard that the unfamiliarity and unknowns of moving on make you homesick for the tombs?
Have you gotten so used to the graveyard that the unfamiliarity and unknowns of moving on make you homesick for the tombs? That very thinking leads to addiction relapse and prisoner recidivism—repeating relationship pitfalls and failure to keep a job result from fearing the unknown and hating the uncontrollable.
Destructive comfort will rob your future of fulfillment. Do not let it happen.
The terrified people struggling to accept the demon-free version of the man in Mark 5 were in the presence of God, but they could not accept how He chose to solve their problems. Do we do that in our lives? In our churches? Are we missing the message in the miracle by putting God in a box to fit what we prefer?
God has given the church miracles. There should be miracles in your home that bring radical change. Do not be afraid to let Jesus transform you. Shake up your itinerary and say, “Yes” when asked to connect to the body of Christ through serving the church. Allow His Word to restore and convince you of your identity through the Spirit of the Living God.