Prepare yourself to discern what is and what is not of God today. Still yourself so you can hear how God is calling you.
Matthew 8:14-17, 28-34 (NRSV)
When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go!” So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.
Take your church’s prayer list and count how many names are on it for medical/physical reasons. Typically, that would be most of the names, which is appropriate as the Gospels contain stories about Jesus healing sick persons. But the Gospels also contain stories about Jesus casting out demons and “unclean spirits” from persons. How many people do we add to prayer lists for spiritual reasons?
Some people think biblical tales of spiritual malady were medical issues (epilepsy, schizophrenia, dissociative disorders) that first-century society didn’t know how to diagnose. Others believe that these instances truly were cases of malevolent supernatural beings harming persons. Whichever side you agree with, you have plenty of company. But here’s the important question—why do you agree with that side?
In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis wrote that there are two equally dangerous errors we humans can make in regard to demons: we can disbelieve in their existence altogether, or we can be unhealthily over-interested in them. The demons themselves, says Lewis, are equally pleased with either error. We Christians claim to believe in spiritual things, but because many such things are beyond our comprehension we focus on the material world. Let us be more aware of our spiritual natures.
Healing God, make whole those who are suffering physically or spiritually today. Use me and my congregation—part of the Body of Christ in the world—to do so. Amen.
Go with God.