Friday, April 20, 2018

Only Granting Demons' Requests

In that same passage from yesterday from Mark chapter 5, something has always seemed a little odd to me. The Legion of demons that Jesus casts out of the Gerasene man makes a request of Jesus and Jesus grants it by allowing them to go into the pigs, but then he turns around and denies the request of the man who has been their victim. In Mark 5:18-20 we find this exchange, 'As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you." So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.'

This man who had been demon-possessed begs to be with Jesus, as I would think just about any of us would. This man had lived for years as a prisoner in his own body, haunting the local cemetery and mountainside, wailing and moaning at all hours of the night and day and cutting and gashing himself with rocks so that he was probably scarred from head to toe, and Jesus had set him free from that.  Naturally, the man wanted to be with Jesus but Jesus gave him a task instead, urging him to go home to the people who had known his condition and to share with them what God had done in his life.

In that little nugget, I believe, is the secret to sharing our faith with people. I have had enough conversations and witnessing opportunities through the years to know that intellectual conversations about the Bible only amount to anything on rare occasions.  People who don't believe the Bible aren't necessarily going to be convinced of its truth because we can name prophecies that came true or because we can point to some debatable archaeological evidence or because we can rattle off someway to demonstrate that science and the Bible are compatible, even though all of those things may be good. A skeptic is going to be a skeptic regardless of the evidence we present.

But when we tell someone our own story about how God has moved in our lives, when we tell someone about how God saved us from a terrible situation, healed our broken heart, rearranged our priorities, saved our marriage, set us free from addictions, or helped us through a time of crisis, when we tell someone about the difference God has made in our own lives, it is a little harder for them to argue with us. They may ask, "Well, how do you know that was God?" They may question our interpretation of events. But most people will not look you in the eye and say, "That's just a story made up by some ancient person trying to explain their life!" When you share your own story with people, it is your story and rarely will someone tell you, "I don't believe you!"

More than that, sharing our own story stands in the tradition of the very people who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to lay out the words of the Bible. What is the Bible if not a collection of people telling their own stories about what God did in their lives and saving those stories for future generations to hear? When you feel the call of God on your life to share the Gospel with someone, God is not just concerned with you spouting facts about the Bible because anyone could do that. When God calls you to witness to someone, God is calling, at least in part, because your story is one they need to hear. God wants people to know that He is moving in your life right now and that God's power is not confined to ancient peoples in far-off lands.

You don't have to be a Bible scholar to witness, you just have to be willing to talk about what God has done for you.

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