Summary: A look at how often we choose our peace and our property over standing up to the evil in the world.
[Open sermon with "Bubble Creek Canyon" video from BluefishTV.com]
OUR PRAYER: We want to be insulated and isolated from the evil in the world.
- Matthew 8:28, 32-34.
- There are two mentions of violence in this passage.
- First, there are two men who are demon-possessed. They are men of great violence. Verse 28 tells us that they were so violent that no one could pass through the area where they lived. It was presumably somewhat isolated, however, since it was a graveyard.
- Second, we see a violent scene when the demons are cast into the pigs and the herd runs headlong into the water. The death of this herd is a violent scene. These pigs are owned by some herders who run into town to tell what has happened.
- Which of the two scenes violence bothers the people? The second, not the first.
- We’ll get into more specifics in a moment, but just note for now that the second scene of violence directly affected them.
- The other situation had violence, but it was evil that was away from them. What bothered them was when the evil directly impacted them.
- We do the same thing a lot. We believe that part of God’s job is to keep us insulated and isolated from the evil that’s in the world. When we do encounter evil, we work to get away from that situation as quickly as we can.
- Examples of that kind of situation:
a. Our child tells about a kid in her class that’s in foster care. The child is on his third home in the last six weeks. The child basically has no one in the world. We say, “That’s really sad” and change the subject.
b. A friend posts on Facebook about how big a problem sexual slavery is around the world. Our friend writes that the video he’s posted contains information that will really bother you. You scroll down without watching it.
c. We have a relative who is showing signs of starting to mess around with abusing prescription drugs. We start making it a point to avoid them.
d. We read a story in the paper about the child soldiers that are being forced to wage war in Uganda. We turn to the comics.
e. A co-worker tells stories that make you think she might being emotionally abused by her husband. You steer your conversations toward the weather.
- We know there is evil in the world. We just don’t want to be confronted by that evil. We want God to keep us insulated and isolated.
- Jesus came to confront the evil in the world.
- That may make us a little uncomfortable because we know that if He did it He may expect us to do it.
OUR CHOICE: We’d rather have our peace and property than have evil confronted.
- What do we want instead? If our priority is not confronting evil, what is it?
- I think it’s often the same two things that the people choose.
- The loss of the pigs troubled them. Jesus was disturbing their peaceful little lives. They wanted their peace back.
- Of course, there is a peace that’s a good thing. That peace includes having an awareness of God being near us. But this peace is more a fantasy-land peace. It’s a “keep-it-away” peace. It’s a peace that says, “I don’t care if someone is hurting as long as I don’t have to hear them crying.”
- Presumably the demon-possessed men were out at the graveyard, so it didn’t really bother the townspeople too much. It didn’t trouble their peace.
- This situation that Jesus caused, though, it did trouble them. Everyone was upset.
- I’d like to think that this came without them knowing the difference that Jesus had made in the lives of the two demon-possessed men, but v. 33 says that the herders told the townspeople everything that had happened, including what had happened to the men. They knew of this miracle and still chose to be bothered rather than blessed.
- The other thing that bothered them was that there was a loss of property. The pigs belonged to these herders.
- We’re not told that anyone said, “Hey, it’s terrible about those pigs, but isn’t it worth it if these two guys were healed?”
- This raises a troubling question. If these pigs were someone’s property, what right did Jesus have to do this? Or, to put it differently, why did Jesus choose to allow the demons to have their wish?
- I think it was to provoke the response He received.
- In our lives He may put us in situations where there is a financial cost to our obedience.