Monday, November 1, 2010

When normal is frightening

Through the Bible in 90 Days: Day 71

Read: Matthew 26:57-Mark 9:13

Verse that stood out:
When [the townspeople] came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid - Mark 5:15

What makes something frightening? Lots of children found my costume frightening last night, even though all I had on was one of those dollar store disguises. You know, the ones with the glasses, big nose, and mustache. I thought I looked pretty tame compared to the vampires and werewolves all around me. But what do I know. I wouldn't think a man sitting calmly and "in his right mind" would be all that frightening either. But according to Mark 9, this man, this normal man struck fear in the hearts of ordinary townsfolk. Why? Well, just that morning he'd been anything but normal. For years, he'd lived in the graveyard up in the hill a menace to himself and all who drew near. He'd been demon possessed. Now . . . now he sat like a man in complete control of himself. He was a man at peace. And he was scaring the living daylights out of his neighbors more now than ever before.

It's not that we like the brokenness and the evil of this world. It's just, we've grown so accustomed to it. We've learned to live in the midst of evil, even if doing so means banishing those who are the most broken to the hills. We've learned to expect sorrow. We've learned to tolerate pain. We've had to in order to survive. In the process we've so organized our lives around the brokenness of this world, that when the power of God shows up we're left terrified, not by evil, but by the good. Remember, the first reaction to the resurrection wasn't joy but fear.

I don't guess it can be any other way for us, so long as we remain in a world where normal is really abnormal. God's breaking in is going to terrify us, just like any kind of surprising interruption does. The real issue isn't whether or not the moves of God scare us (they will!), but rather, what we do after the initial fright passes by? Do we like the townspeople in Mark 9, ask Jesus to leave, preferring the normalcy of evil over the unpredictability of the good? Or, or do we take a leap of faith and ask to frightened all over again?

No comments: