by Katie Borden
Will you use a bit of a biblical imagination with me today as we consider the implications of this passage?
Let’s begin with the demon-possessed man. Imagine with me that, once the demon had been cast out of the man in this story, his life was completely transformed. No longer captive to the evil spirit, he was free to live more fully as God created him to be. Jesus changed his life.
But, imagine with me: his life was probably not the only one that was changed. In fact, I can imagine that perhaps some of those in the crowd (v. 23) were part of his community—and the “astonishment” the crowds had was that of almost being beside themselves. They were undone. Why?
I took a course about a year ago in family systems theory, and I’m admittedly a novice when it comes to this field—you therapists and psychologists out there can correct me in the comments if I get this wrong—but my understanding is that the theory espouses that we are all part of relational systems: systems within our families of origin, systems within the families we’ve built in our adult years, systems within our work communities and faith communities. These systems are part of how we—individually and collectively—experience life.
And when one part of the system undergoes a major transformation, the whole system has to change. Often, the system has found a homeostasis. It’s found a way of operating that doesn’t take a lot of effort or energy. We are probably in homeostasis when we say, “this is just how we do things around here.” But when Jesus moves in power, when the kingdom of God breaks in, things are changed. The system is upended. I wonder if that’s what’s happening with the crowd, and maybe even with the Pharisees in this passage. Perhaps this healing has somehow upended their world, too.
What about you? What about me?
When Jesus gets ahold of us, he interrupts and inverts our understanding of the world, and he puts our “homeostasis” to death. And if I’m honest, I find within me the inclination to fight the change sometimes. It’s scary, and it’s beyond my understanding of how my comfortable communities operate. I am undone.
But oh, the goodness of the transforming work of Christ! While I may be undone, in his power I am put back together in a way that is beyond my comprehension—Christ’s work heals, liberates, restores, redeems, and gives life.
In this Lenten season, may we lean into this “undoing” of our old systems and ways of being as Christ makes us new and whole. Amen.
Maybe today is a day for you to pray a brave prayer: "God, change me." Then ask him to show you where he wants to make you new (again, or maybe for the first time). Consider spending some time journaling today about this. God be with you, friends.