Devotional/ Discussion thought of the day
28 When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes,* two men who were possessed by demons met him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area. 29 They began screaming at him, “Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us befoe God’s appointed time?” 30 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. 31 So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.” 32 “All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.
33 The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone. New Living Translation (Mt 8:28–34).
But when theological discussion ceases to be a striving for truth and becomes, instead, a struggle for power in the Church, then the nature of theology has been radically falsified; it introduces party politics into the Church and becomes the medium of party power; it divides the Church. Wherever theology generates theological parties and these parties become Church parties, it has become a false wisdom. It creates enmities and embitters people. I must admit that what shocks me most deeply in many letters and publications is the rank hatred of the Church and her members that speaks through them. The role of true wisdom and hence of the authentic teacher of theology in the Church is to create peace, not strife, to create goodness and inner openness, not embitterment.
As I’ve read verse 33 above, I have always wondered what was in the people’s minds. They saw Jesus deal with the person in their village who was most in need, and he completely rescued and healed the man. Because of his actions, the villagers were safe.
And they drove Jesus away… they pleaded with Him to leave them, to leave them alone!
I wonder if the church today is more sophisticated than that, but to the same effect. Within our theological discussions, the last thing we look for is the presence of Christ, or His desire, reconciliation, health and wholeness. You can see it in the refusal to meet at the altar and start theological dialogues there, in His presence, together as His body. You see it in the nature of forming political parties in a church, or in a denomination. (we won’t call it that, but we have planks and litmus tests, and budgets and political machines )
We relegate the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the Redeemer, Reconciler to the back room, to some closet or chapel, while tempers flare, and sides square off, and everyone battles for power. We would rather talk about purity of doctrine and purging ourselves from anything false (like we could!) or faithfulness to our mission. (as if we are ready to go out on our own, with a bunch of web articles and expert consultants)
In the meantime, we are so busy arguing what often boils down to semantics, that we forget the Lord can deliver us from all that crap. We forget that this is work based in His will, in His desire. We forget that we are led by the Holy Spirit, not some negotiated consensus.
That is how these reconciliation happens. True reconciliation that isn’t based in compromise, but in Jesus,
May we stop running from the one who will rid us of our demons, bring healing to our souls, bind us together as one body as we celebrate being in His presence,
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 242). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.