Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.
Luke 8:35–37, ESV
One of the greatest arguments that I hear for church growth is we have to make our faith more welcoming. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that every congregation should be welcoming and warm. We should be ready to embrace all who come through our doors. Usually, when this comment is said, however, it isn’t about that. What is often meant by “welcoming” is a calling to move away from difficult aspects of our faith that challenge worldliness. When we look at the miracle Jesus committed in the restoration of the demon-possessed man, doesn’t the response seem odd? Why wasn’t there a celebration of the restoration of their brother? Their way of life had been challenged. The cost of their brother’s restoration was too much. What more would it cost if Jesus were to remain? Jesus did warn us of this and called us to weigh the cost. Yet, sometimes we forget. Our faith is, by nature, welcoming to those who are open and realize their need for a Savior. There will always be those, however, that do not desire to see life differently and don’t want their way of life to change even when it contradicts what our Lord desires for them to do. Is it beneficial to ignore the Word for their comfort? Sadly, some believe it would. The healed man asked to go with Jesus and His disciples but was left to be a witness to any who would hear about what God had done for him. We, like the healed man, are called to remain and do likewise. Jesus was rejected by many, but He leaves those healed to proclaim all that He does to any who will hear. Let us stand firm in our witness and our proclamation for just as our Lord was lifted up and left, we know that He will return.
Let us pray. I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have kept me this night from all harm and danger, and I ask you to protect me this day also from sin and every evil, that in all I do today, I may please you. For into your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel watch over me, that the wicked foe have no power over me. Amen.