In the class I attend at church, we’ve been going through the Gospel of Mark. We’re not even a chapter into it, and we ran smack into a demon. This odd account led to many questions, and I took lots of notes.
“They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then, a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits, and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.” Mark 1:21-28
Did you notice that the demon was listening quietly in church? That’s not how we typically think of them. We believe more like the movie, The Exorcist. Later in the account, verse 32, the town brings more demon-possessed people to Jesus.
What was going on there? Why did the impure spirit manifest?
Because God walked into the room, and it reacted as a roach does to Light.
We had heard stories where a missionary led Pastor Rod through a red-light district in India. Flanked on both sides of the street by brothel owners and prostitutes, a crowd gathered and followed them.
Men and women of God walking into darkness get attention immediately. Evil sits up and takes notice. It starts to push back while the afflicted are drawn to the Light like a moth to a flame.
The best analogy I can think of how we can see it in the natural world is presence and intensity. My wife has a very approachable presence. I used to have a “don’t talk to me” bubble. I’m much more approachable now.
My brother, Bobby, is intense but can drop it to a more relaxed level to make others more comfortable. I’ve ramped up the intensity to set boundaries.
Have you seen it before? I wonder what it looks like in the supernatural?
Do people of God have a light we can’t see, but maybe we can sense? Do others have a dark aura?
The area of Galilee in 1st Century Israel was a hotbed of pagan worship. Demons had a foothold. Anyone not in the Kingdom of God, of Light, could be manipulated by evil forces in the surrounding kingdom of darkness.
Especially when they plug into that evil. The evil that attaches to people can see the presence of God and react to it in a Christian.
It makes me wonder if no one is reacting to your presence, how much of God do you have in your life? Providing that they’re not responding to you clobbering them with a Bible.
A quote from Spiritual Warfare by Jerry Rankin resonated with me when I read it later that week.
“C. S. Lewis said in his introduction to The Screwtape Letters, “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch and every split second are claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.” 1 I shared this with a group of missionaries, and one of the ladies in the group spontaneously exclaimed, “That’s it!” She was embarrassed with the disruptive nature of her comment, but I recognized who had spoken and asked her, “What is it?” She said, “That’s my problem. Most of the time, I’m in neutral. I don’t choose the things of Satan. I don’t want to follow the ways of the world. But neither am I consciously choosing and submitting to God, to follow Him.” She had realized that when our minds are in neutral, we are vulnerable. We have to fill them with God’s thoughts, God’s truth, and a conscious commitment to Him.”
The immediate question is, are we engaged or in neutral? Is it some of the time or all of the time?
To help me conceptualize the quote, I picture it in two ways. First, like a chessboard, with the usual black and white pieces, but also gray pawns. These are neutral.
Secondly, like a map of an area, with light areas and dark areas. Shaded areas with a multitude of dark pins with a few light ones scattered throughout. Light areas have lots of bright pins with a few dark ones scattered everywhere.
To close, reflect on your surroundings this week. Are you in a light area or a dark area? The church isn’t an automatic light area, nor is outside of church automatically dark. Think about that, and what color pin are you–light, dark, or gray?