Monday, November 12, 2018

Voice Passwords and Disconnected Exorcists

When she was younger, my daughter had this journal that was really more of a toy than something she wrote in. The journal had a voice lock on it. She could program it to open when she said a particular password and she changed the password from time to time, but she didn't change it because her brother figured out the password. Typically, we all knew what the password was. But knowing the password didn't do us any good because the lock was keyed to my daughter's voice. I could stand in front of that journal all day long, saying the password of the week until I was blue in the face but it wouldn't open. The journal cared as much about the person speaking as the password itself.

In Acts chapter 19, we find a group of traveling exorcists, seven brothers, who were known for casting out demons. They had heard about Jesus and about Paul and decided to add one more "magic formula" to their exorcism routine, casting out demons 'by the Jesus whom Paul preaches...But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered' (Acts 19:13-16, NLT). These men had decided to invoke the name of Jesus because of its power but had failed because they had no actual connection to the person of Jesus.

Sometimes, I wonder if we treat the name of Jesus the same way. We try to ask God for things "in Jesus' name" without actually being connected to Jesus and yet expect to get what we ask for. We try to convince people to "put God back in schools" without trying to bring people into relationship with God first.  We treat prayer like a formula instead of using the time to mingle our hearts with a God who gave everything to be with us. The name of God has power, but only because it is connected with God himself. Apart from the Person, the word is meaningless.

Are you connecting to Jesus? Are you invested in the person of Jesus? If not, it's possible a name is just a name.

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