Unclean Spirits

Life Notes—January 26, 2012

“Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’  And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.”  Mark 1:23-26

I was a mostly good, agreeable child.  I seldom argued with my parents or siblings.  I kept my room in relative order.  I did what was expected around the house.  I stayed out of trouble at school.  I feel relatively safe in making these statements since neither of my parents can refute them any longer.  However, there were a handful of times I would do something (innocently, of course) that would catch the ire of one or both of my parents and I would hear, “GREGORY LYNN HILDENBRAND!  You come here this instant!”  Extreme anger was signaled by their use of my otherwise-ignored full name.  I would submissively slink my way to the accusing parent, receive my shaming, and then whine under my breath all the way back to my room.  It was as if my parents had identified an unclean spirit in me, and this was their way of casting it out. 

In the scripture above Jesus rebukes an unclean spirit in a man in the synagogue and orders it out.  While the unclean spirit complains, it does obey the authority of Jesus and leaves.  Who is the voice of authority in your life?  My wife, children, friends and co-workers sometimes catch me showing symptoms of an unclean spirit and call me out—sometimes even using my full name.  Sometimes I will be convicted by a scripture passage or sermon.  Heartfelt prayers can set my heart right.  Sometimes I see the suffering of another and remember I have no margin to complain about my lot in life, casting the demon out myself.  Receiving a different perspective is an enlightening and humbling, if not always pleasant experience. 

What are the unclean spirits in your life?  I imagine the man in the temple to have been behaving in a clearly unruly, disruptive, over-the-top manner, perhaps spewing pea soup or some other dramatic trick I remember from The Exorcist.  But what if he was simply being argumentative, or talking over others, or complaining incessantly, or cursing, or being overly selfish or demanding or rude?  I frequently fall prey to all of these unclean spirits and I need them called out.  We need the perspective of others on our behavior.  And we need Jesus to cleanse us of the unclean spirits other simply cannot cast out. 

Tom’s sermon downtown is “Listening For Authority.”  Life worship begins at 10:00 AM in Brady Hall, downtown.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the downtown sanctuary.  Mitch’s sermon at our west campus, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00, is “What’s My Motivation for Acting Like a Christian: Gratitude.” 

Come home to church this Sunday.  Don’t make me tell you again…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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