27 October 2011

Ubuntu News

As I've mentioned previously, Dell sells and supports computers with Ubuntu pre-installed. They have done this for a while now but they have only been available through Dell's website. Well that has all changed.

According to a recent article, Ubuntu and Dell are now selling systems in 220 stores throughout China. Now I wonder when all of that Ubuntu goodness will be coming to the States?

If you haven't checked out Ubuntu, go to their site and take the tour. I starts a virtual session of Ubuntu right in your browser!

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC

20 October 2011

Happy birthday, Ubuntu!

Today Ubuntu, easily the worlds most popular Linux Operating System (OS), turns 7! Within just a few short years, Ubuntu has released 15 different versions of it’s OS. It’s gained a huge following (over 20 million users and growing) by being ‘user friendly.’ That is, unlike the Linux OSes of the past, Ubuntu’s focus is on the end user - the every day people who use computers for accessing the Internet, chatting with their friends, editing pictures, working on presentations or documents, checking email, listening to music, and watching movies.

Recently, Wikipedia, Amazon, and HP (as well as a host of others) chose Ubuntu for all of it's server and cloud based solutions.

As a lot of you know, I’ve been a devout Ubuntu user for years (started testing Ubuntu in 2007). By far, it’s the best OS out there on standard PC hardware. In fact, I’ve found more integration with Ubuntu than I have had with any other OS, and I use Mac and Windows at work daily.

So, if you’re tired of shelling out all of your money for upgrades to OSes and hardware; if you’re tired of all the viruses and spyware; if you’re tied of stuff just not working; if you can’t believe that stuff still doesn’t seem to work together; then you owe it to yourself to give Ubuntu a try. I guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised. And, after using it for a month or so, you’ll wonder why you ever used anything else!

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC

11 October 2011

Daily Gospel Reflection - 11 October 2011

Matthew 10:16-23 (CEB): “Look, I’m sending you as sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as snakes and innocent as doves. Watch out for people—because they will hand you over to councils and they will beat you in their synagogues. They will haul you in front of governors and even kings because of me so that you may give your testimony to them and to the Gentiles. Whenever they hand you over, don’t worry about how to speak or what you will say, because what you can say will be given to you at that moment. You aren’t doing the talking, but the Spirit of my Father is doing the talking through you. Brothers and sisters will hand each other over to be executed. A father will turn his child in. Children will defy their parents and have them executed. Everyone will hate you on account of my name. But whoever stands firm until the end will be saved. Whenever they harass you in one city, escape to the next, because I assure that you will not go through all the cities of Israel before the Human One comes.

This is one of those passages that some people blow way out of context. Let’s see if we can keep our thoughts in line. First of all, Jesus was not speaking to us today. He was speaking to the disciples, the Twelve (verse 5). From that one point, this passage should fall into place. Jesus uses the personal pronoun ‘you’ fifteen times in this short passage - again, showing that his warnings and instructions were directed to the Twelve and, again, not to us.

What gets us in trouble is that we start seeing the ‘end of the world’ in Jesus’ statement there at the last. You know the one about the ‘Second Coming’? Well, that’s just the problem. He wasn’t referring to any (supposed) Second Coming. Notice again the ‘you’ there twice in that sentence. The ‘coming’ that Jesus referred to was the coming ‘judgement’ against Israel in 70CE. This fits neatly within the immediate context and it fits within the historical context. According to Josephus, the ‘War of the Jews’ took place roughly forty years (some see this as a biblical generation) after the time of Jesus. And this war would have been during the time of the Twelve.*

However, I’m not saying that we can’t get anything from this passage. A couple of thoughts that can be carried over for any generation. First is the issue of being in a hostile world. We see this by the phrase ‘sheep among wolves’. There is no need to fill this with examples of violence and hatred and intolerance and greed and other deadly sins. We are all quite aware of those issues. But Jesus is here speaking of us being part of that world - not separated from it. To me, this is a key issue. Far too many theories about ‘the end’ have followers of Christ escaping from this world and God obliterating it. Therefore, a lot of people aren’t really concerned about fixing issues like ecology or economy or curable diseases in other parts of the world. ‘Why polish the brass bell on the a sinking ship’ is often quoted as the reason we don’t get more involved. But we can see from Jesus’ statements that we are to be involved in the world around us. And the way we live should reflect that we don’t agree with some of the worlds ways. And that disagreement should be such that the ‘everyone will hate [us] on account’ of Christ. But this type of resistance calls for two things - wisdom and non-violence. We aren’t supposed to just be at odds with ‘the world’ willy-nilly. We are to be at odds where Christ was at odds - ‘preach the good news to the poor’, ‘proclaim release to the prisoners’, ‘recovery of sight to the blind’, and ‘liberate the oppressed’ (see Luke 4.18 CEB).

Next, and as we can see it’s related to the first part, is the way of non-violence. I shouldn’t even have to bring this up (and I won’t be too long on this since I’ve written about it before) but it seems that some people just don’t get it. Followers of Jesus are called to live a life of non-violence (after all, Jesus is the ‘Prince of Peace’). Over and over again, he warned the religious opposition that their insistence on the use of violence would only end in devastation (see Luke 19.41-44 CEB). And, again, we see this fulfilled with the war with Rome. Plus, he told his followers that violence was not the answer (Matthew 5.38-48 CEB), even when he was arrested (See Matthew 26.51-52 CEB; Luke 22.49-51 CEB). So it’s no surprise that we read here that followers of Christ are to be ‘innocent as doves’.

* - For those who are interested, you can read about the War of the Jews here.

10 October 2011

Daily Gospel Reflection - 10 October 2011

Matthew 10:5-15 (CEB): Jesus sent these twelve out and commanded them, “Don’t go among the Gentiles or into a Samaritan city. Go instead to the lost sheep, the people of Israel. As you go, make this announcement: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, and throw out demons. You received without having to pay. Therefore, give without demanding payment. Workers deserve to be fed, so don’t gather gold or silver or copper coins for your money belts to take on your trips. Don’t take a backpack for the road or two shirts or sandals or a walking stick. Whatever city or village you go into, find somebody in it who is worthy and stay there until you go on your way. When you go into a house, say, ‘Peace!’ If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if the house isn’t worthy, take back your blessing. If anyone refuses to welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet as you leave that house or city. I assure you that it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than it will be for that city.

A couple of thoughts. Firstly, I have a real problem with traveling salesmen preachers who beg for financial assistance so they can continue God’s work. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is quite clear that we aren’t supposed to be making money off the Gospel. Sure, ‘workers deserve to be fed’ but that rests in the hand of God. I have been at too many services where the traveling preacher is dressed better, owns a better home, drives a better car, and has more money than most people in the congregation. Yet, they have the indecency to ask for money.

That’s one of the things I like about the Lindisfarne Community. Our clergy don’t get paid for being clergy. We are called to be bi-vocational, ontological priests. This helps relieve the burdens of others. Now, certainly, if the ones for whom we are serving wants to make financial donations, that’s one thing. But to stand up and say things like, ‘I can’t continue in this ministry without your financial support’ is an outrage. I think, we as the congregation, should ‘shake the dust from our feet as [we] leave’ the service and not go back while that person is there!

Secondly, there is the last sentence, ‘I assure you that it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Judgment Day than it will be for that city’ who refuses to welcome or listen to the message of the Gospel. This has always been seen as ‘proof’ that there are degrees or levels to ‘Hell’ (which is understood to mean ‘eternal conscious torture’). However, the only thing that it supposes is that there are degrees of punishment. That is, all judgement is not the same. Just like in our own society, we do not have a blanket sentencing for all crimes that are committed (stealing a piece of candy does not get the same punishment that a child rapist and murder gets). ‘The punishment must fit the crime’ as the saying goes. It appears that Jesus is stating the same from this passage. And that, taken with the account that the end result of punishment is to correct not destroy, serves to show us that even the judgement of ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’ and those who rejected the words and actions of the disciples is not eternal conscious torture but corrective in nature that leads to faith and good deeds.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC

Weekly Gospel Reflection - 09 October 2011

Matthew 22:1-14 (CEB): Jesus responded by speaking again in parables: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding party for his son. He sent his servants to call those invited to the wedding party. But they didn’t want to come. Again he sent other servants and said to them, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Look, the meal is all prepared. I’ve butchered the oxen and the fattened cattle. Now everything’s ready. Come to the wedding party!” ’ But they paid no attention and went away—some to their fields, others to their businesses. The rest of them grabbed his servants, abused them, and killed them.

“The king was angry. He sent his soldiers to destroy those murderers and set their city on fire. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding party is prepared, but those who were invited weren’t worthy. Therefore, go to the roads on the edge of town and invite everyone you find to the wedding party.’

“Then those servants went to the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding party was full of guests. Now when the king came in and saw the guests, he spotted a man who wasn’t wearing wedding clothes. He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ But he was speechless. Then the king said to his servants, ‘Tie his hands and feet and throw him out into the farthest darkness. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth.’

“Many people are invited, but few people are chosen.”

This story that Jesus tells is part of a continuing, escalating, conversation with the religious opposition that started back in 21.23. And in each story, Jesus seems to be getting more and more irritated and specific.

The basic premise of this story is that the ‘King’ represents God and that the wedding banquet is the ministry of Christ. That Jesus is ushering in the Realm of God is evident by his statement earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, ‘[If] I throw out demons by the power of God’s Spirit, then God’s [Realm] has already overtaken you’ (Matthew 12.28 CEB). Of course, Jesus was doing exactly that. So the message is clear - through prophets like John the Baptist, God was inviting the Jewish people to be part of God’s next phase of the rescue operation. But they refused and even killed some of those who were sent to them. Because of this unyielding and violence, God would bring judgment upon Christ’s contemporaries. And in so doing, this did not mean the God’s Realm was thwarted. It means that God now turned to ‘everyone’ else, both ‘good and bad’ - meaning both Jews and Gentiles.

Now, historically, this is exactly what happened. We read in the Acts of the Apostles, that the focus turned from Jews only to both Jews and Gentiles. But the persecution from the Jewish opposition continued. And within a single generation from Jesus, the Roman Legion came in and leveled the city in 70CE.

But, there is something here I want to zoom in on. That is the idea that, since the time of Jesus, the Realm of God is a reality now. In the story, the wedding party represented God’s Realm - ‘The [Realm of God] is like a king who prepared a wedding party for his son’. And, as I noted earlier, Jesus was ushering in God’s Realm. However, the manifestation of it is an ongoing process. But the fact of the matter is God’s Realm is a present reality. ‘Everyone’ ‘good and bad’ are in it now. However, one can’t live or believe any way one wishes. In the story, the king sees someone who is not dressed properly and has him taken from the party. I equate this to those who don’t yet have faith in Christ and / or are not living the Way of Christ. All humanity, since the time of Jesus forward, is living in God’s Realm. However, this is not a guarantee that one will be able to continue to live however one sees fit. No. The scriptures are quite clear that all of humanity will have to give an account for our lives. And, as St Paul wrote in 1Corinthians,

[Each] one’s work will be clearly shown. The day will make it clear, because it will be revealed with fire—the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work survives, they’ll get a reward. But if anyone’s work goes up in flames, they’ll lose it. However, they themselves will be saved as if they had gone through a fire.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC

Prayer for the Week: The Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost

O God, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

07 October 2011

Daily Gospel Reflection - 07 October 2011

Matthew 9:27-34 (CEB): As Jesus departed, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Show us mercy, Son of David.”

When he came into the house, the blind men approached him. Jesus said to them, “Do you believe I can do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, “It will happen for you just as you have believed.” Their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly warned them, “Make sure nobody knows about this.” But they went out and spread the word about him throughout that whole region.

As they were leaving, people brought to him a man who was demon-possessed and unable to speak. When Jesus had thrown out the demon, the man who couldn’t speak began to talk. The crowds were amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

But the Pharisees said, “He throws out demons with the authority of the ruler of demons.”

Healing and betrayal. That’s what I see in today’s reading. I’ve never looked at it this way before today. I’ve always thought that the people who betrayed Jesus were the disciples. You know the scene in the Gethsemane garden? That’s what I think of. But when reflecting on this passage, I see now that Jesus was betrayed all the time. He told those blind men, ‘Make sure nobody knows about this.’ And what did they do? They betrayed him - ‘But they went out and spread the word about him throughout the whole region.’ Now, some have said that Jesus did this intentionally. Like when we’re told not to do something, the first thing we want to do is that very thing we aren’t supposed to do! Therefore, the thinking goes, since Jesus knew this about people, he was intentional in telling people not to spread the word. But I don’t see it that way. I don’t think Jesus was in a hurry to be tortured and executed. I see it as one of the many ways that people betrayed him. At the crucifixion, they probably (the ones with hearts of compassion) felt the sting of the cross and the embarrassment of his words of forgiveness. They probably realized that they were the ones who got Jesus arrested and killed. Their guilt of betrayal would be heavy indeed.

But, there is another type of betrayal here. And that’s the betrayal of people not telling others about what Christ has done for them. This is the type of which, I think, a lot of us are guilty of now. That is, with all the plurality in the world (and, let’s be honest, there has always been plurality of religions), some of us don’t really want to talk about Jesus and what he means to us and what he’s done in our lives. I understand this completely. I’ve been guilty of it myself. But recently, I’ve been a little convicted about it. Why should I keep silent about what Christ has done for me? A lot of it comes from the type-casting, the profiling, the religious intolerance towards Christians that is so prevalent right now. I know, some people don’t see this. And others see that some Christians are the ones who are the most intolerant of other faith traditions. And, let me be clear, that should not be heard of from Christian people! But at the same time, it seems that all Christians are judged by those few who are not following Christ’s example of Love and respect and mercy and non-violence. And it’s because of this, that a lot of us, including myself, have not been so outspoken in my faith. It is in that regard that I feel that some of us have betrayed Christ. We have been silent when we have needed to be speaking out. Our silence has given strength to those who name the name of Christ but seem so full of hatred and intolerance.

We can no longer remain silent. We must stand up for what Christ has done for us. We must stand up to the bullies, the haters, the greedy, the violent, the intolerant, not only for those outside of the Christian family (and according to Paul, we shouldn’t really be judging them anyway), but we should be speaking out against those within the family of Christ.

Every day, all day long, Christ is betrayed. And the betrayal comes from us - members of his own family. Whether we act in ways of violence and intolerance or we are silent to the injustices around us, we betray Christ. These things should not be so, my dear friends. We are to be Christ to those we meet. We are to seek Christ in them. And part of this means that we speak up about what Christ has done in our lives. We must shout from the rooftops of God’s mercy and Love for all people. That God has reconciled the whole creation back to Godself and brought peace through Christ’s blood on the cross (Colossians 1.19-20 CEB).

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC

06 October 2011

Daily Gospel Reflection - 06 October 2011

Matthew 9:18-26 (CEB): While Jesus was speaking to them, a ruler came and knelt in front of him, saying, “My daughter has just died. But come and place your hand on her, and she’ll live.” So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him. Then a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched the hem of his clothes. She thought, If I only touch his robe I’ll be healed.

When Jesus turned and saw her, he said, “Be encouraged, daughter. Your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that time on.

When Jesus went into the ruler’s house, he saw the flute players and the distressed crowd. He said, “Go away, because the little girl isn’t dead but is asleep”; but they laughed at him. After he had sent the crowd away, Jesus went in and touched her hand, and the little girl rose up. News about this spread throughout that whole region.

Yesterday, during the start of the evening news, the program I was watching was interrupted with the story that Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, had died from his battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56. Today there has been a flood of news stories, blogs, articles, etc. talking about Steve Jobs and what he accomplished and dreams of what he could have accomplished had he won his battle. This is indeed a sad day, and I don’t mean to diminish the things that Steve brought to the technology world and the world at large. But, every day, several thousand children die from curable disease and famine. Hundreds of police and firefighters die every day just doing their jobs. Countless people involved in wars all across the globe die every single day. Abuse and exploited children, spouses, partners, and the elderly die every day. And we don’t see very much written about them. To me, that is the true tragedy. Where is the out pouring of support and love and kindness and respect for those precious ones?

In the passage before us today, Jesus deals with an incurable disease and death of a loved one. In both cases, the person was healed and given life again. I have read that Steve made it a point, even early in his life, to talk about living your life, of doing the things you want to do, of making every effort to not have regrets. We’ve heard it said before, possibly many times, none of us are promised tomorrow and we should leave each day like it’s our last. In the passage above, do we think that those two people lived each day likes it was their last? I’m not sure. But what about us? Do we live each day like it would be our last? No. And I personally don’t know of anyone who does. It’s a good idea. But is it very practical? Probably not. I think what would be better is to follow Steve’s example and live our own dreams. Don’t listen to the nay sayers and the haters. Some people are just going to be jealous and haters. And sometimes, those people are ourselves.

Another point  I like about the passage above is that Jesus addressed the outcasts, people who were seen as property and not worthy of ones time. Both were female and one was a child. How often do we feel like we are outcasts or not worthy of someones time? I feel that way at times. More often than I would like to admit, actually. But there is hope. Even if no one else cares, even if we don’t care about ourselves (or we pretend that we don’t), rest assured, my dear friends, Christ cares. He sees past our pain and shortcomings and self doubt and false selves. Christ heals us and gives us life. Sometimes, all we have to do is humble ourselves, reach out, and touch the hem of his clothes. And, sometimes, we can’t do that for ourselves. We need others to go to Christ on our behalf and ask for his help, for his life giving Love.

So, as we remember a true visionary in the world of Technology, let us remember that there are still plenty of others that need our support, our respect, our kindness, and yes, our Love. They need us to kneel on the dusty road and reach out to Christ’s hem for them. They need us to be channels of God’s Grace, Mercy, and Love. May we be that, not only for the family and friends of Steve Jobs, but also for the thousands of people who are abused, exploited, and killed every day. For the forgotten ones. For the crazy ones.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC

05 October 2011

Daily Gospel Reflection - 05 October 2011

Matthew 9:9-17 (CEB): As Jesus continued on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at a kiosk for collecting taxes. He said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him. As Jesus sat down to eat in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners joined Jesus and his disciples at the table.

But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

When Jesus heard it, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and learn what this means: I want mercy and not sacrifice. I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners.”

At that time John’s disciples came and asked Jesus, “Why do we and the Pharisees frequently fast, but your disciples never fast?”

Jesus responded, “The wedding guests can’t mourn while the groom is still with them, can they? But the days will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they’ll fast.

“No one sews a piece of new, unshrunk cloth on old clothes because the patch tears away the cloth and makes a worse tear. No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If they did, the wineskins would burst, the wine would spill, and the wineskins would be ruined. Instead, people pour new wine into new wineskins so that both are kept safe.”

I’ve always wondered about the last paragraph of this passage. I never really got what Jesus meant by the cloth and wineskin. But keeping it in context of the rest of this passage, we can see what he was meaning. Think of it this way: There’s an ‘old way’ of doing something. And, sometimes that ‘old way’ is broken. Some think that the best thing to do is to try to repair what’s broken. However, sometimes, the only way forward is to chunk the ‘old way’ all together to make room for the ‘new way’. Other times, the ‘new way’ grows out of the ‘old way’. It builds itself on what’s good from the ‘old way’ but moves in new directions that the ‘old way’ never even thought possible. This is what I think Jesus is meaning by his statements about the cloth and wineskins.

The ‘old way’ of first century Judaism was not wrong, per say, but it could only go so far. It couldn’t go the rest of the journey. The religious opposition of Jesus’ day were content and thought that Judaism as they knew it was all that was needed. Anything else was looked at with suspicion. ‘This is the way we have done it for years,’ they might say, ‘and that’s all we need.’

Also, some weren’t so naive to believe that they were pure in their teaching and understanding. Jesus’ confrontation with them on several occasions reveal just this view (e.g., Matthew 15.1-9 CEB).

We can see that application today (and throughout history, actually). Too many people hold to their tradition instead of seeing that God is moving in new directions. The same response of ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ comes rushing in. Those who are seeking God in new ways of expression and doctrine are looked at with suspicion while others are seen as ‘unorthodox’ or even ‘heretics’.

And yet, both Jesus and the early church were breaking new ground in their understanding of God and God’s purposes in the world. While some sought the destructing of the ‘The Way’ (see Acts 9.1-2 CEB; 19.9 CEB; etc.), others saw that it was God’s doing (Acts 5.27-42 CEB, note vv. 34-39). Similarly today, there are new movements going on in The Way and some have stubbornly held on to their tradition. Now, I’m not saying that we should not ‘test the spirits to see if they are from God’ (1John 4.1 CEB). Far from it. But just because something is different, or, more importantly, just because something questions our traditional views and understandings, doesn’t mean that it’s not from God. It may well be that God is moving in a new direction. And, if the ‘old way’ no longer works, then the ‘new way’ may rise out of it’s ashes. Or, to use Jesus’ images, the new cloth may tear away from the old garment - the old wineskin may burst from the new wine being pored into it.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC

04 October 2011

Daily Gospel Reflection - 04 October 2011

Matthew 9:1-8 CEB: Boarding a boat, Jesus crossed to the other side of the lake and went to his own city. People brought to him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a cot. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man who was paralyzed, “Be encouraged, my child, your sins are forgiven.”

Some legal experts said among themselves, “This man is insulting God.”

But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Why do you fill your minds with evil things? Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so you will know that the Human One has authority on the earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“Get up, take your cot, and go home.” The man got up and went home. When the crowds saw what had happened, they were afraid and praised God, who had given such authority to human beings.

The thing that sticks out of this passage is the last sentence, ‘When the crowds saw what happened, they were afraid and praised God, who had given such authority to human beings.’  What authority was that? It was the authority to forgive sins and to heal people. Let that implications of that sink in for a moment.  (I did. I let that last sentence sit for about three hours.)

How often to we go around telling people they’re forgiven? I know a lot of us forgive people (and we should always forgive). But how many of us do it when no one is asking? That’s a big step. But Jesus stated, on more than one occasion I might add, that we were to forgive. What would happen if we did that? I bet we would get the same type of response from the religious opposition that Jesus got. But if we are going to follow him, if we are to be Christ in the world (John 20.21 CEB; compare John 1.1-4, 14 CEB), we need to forgive more. Especially when no one is asking.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC

03 October 2011

Daily Gospel Reflection - 03 October 2011

Matthew 8:28-34 (CEB): When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake in the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed came from among the tombs to meet him. They were so violent that nobody could travel on that road. They cried out, “What are you going to do with us, Son of God? Have you come to torture us before the time of judgment?” Far off in the distance a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, “If you throw us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

Then he said to the demons, “Go away,” and they came out and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the cliff into the lake and drowned. Those who tended the pigs ran into the city and told everything that had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole city came out and met Jesus. When they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

I’m drawn to the last two sentences, ‘Then the whole city came out and met Jesus. When they say him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.’ it seems that whenever Jesus shows us, people have this reaction. At first, they stream in to see Jesus. But, once they see him and what he’s done (and what he’s capable of doing and willing to do), they ‘plead with him to leave their region’. I think this reflects a lot on us as humans who are ‘sin addicts’. We are excited about being free, but when we see what’s entailed, that is, when we see that Jesus will not allow us to continue as we were before, we don’t want anything to do with it. This scene reminds me a lot of the show ‘Intervention’. The addict, at some point, wants to be free. But, when confronted with what that means, they don’t want anything to do with it.

So, the question that comes rushing to the fore is, ‘Why are we rejecting Christ and his Grace, Love, and Mercy?’ Is it because we are at a place where we are not ready to give up everything to follow him? Do we want to keep on doing what we want to do (whatever that may be) and just have Christ bless our sin (which won’t happen)? When we have to choose between a life that we (supposedly) control or a life controlled by Christ, too often we choose the former life (if one can really call it a life). It’s like we come rushing to see what Christ has done, indeed, can do, but then, when we see that it will cost us everything, we plead for him to go away.

But here’s the kicker, once we have visited Christ, we will never be the same. Even if we decide to reject him at that moment, we won’t be able to get that encounter with him out of our minds and hearts. The peace and freedom will ever be beckoning for us to come. The Love of Christ will be compelling us to come. ‘The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come’ (Revelation 22.17 CEB)!

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC