|We have been reading several stories this summer regarding Jesus driving out demons. In each case, the crowds are both amazed and fearful. It takes a lot of spiritual power to drive out demons. Jesus clearly had that power, but these stories, I think, were not so much about the power of Jesus to drive out demons, but about our faith. As I reflect on these stories, it seems to me that it takes a lot of spiritual maturity to let the Lord drive out demons, so we can more effectively proclaim the Gospel in our lives and in the Kingdom of God. Demons are indeed everywhere in our lives. They are in others, which we are quick to recognize, and they are in ourselves, which we are not so quick to acknowledge. It seems to me that Jesus drives them out not so much to demonstrate his power, but to reveal how much he loves us and wants us to be his companions in the harvest of wholeness and healing.
Thinking about the role of demons in my life and in the lives of others, I must acknowledge that I am often all too often too comfortable with the demons in this world. I have learned to accommodate them and to let them set the standards low for myself and others. I am pretty sure, however, that the Lord wants much more from us. As we read today in Genesis and Psalm 17, God comes to us just as he came to Jacob, reminding us that we must contend seriously with the demons in our lives, and we must not ignore the spiritual challenge that represents to us. If we are open to spiritual challenges, we will indeed be tried with fire when the Lord searches our hearts. We can’t pretend that evil does not exist inside ourselves as much as in the hearts of others. We all have our demons that need to be driven out of our lives. But the good news of the Gospel is that we don’t have to do that alone. We have a savior whose presence is always with us.
That brings to my mind the 23rd Psalm. “The Lord is my shepherd” and “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me” are comforting words. In our readings for today, Jesus comforts us again with the words, “I am the good shepherd.” He sees us in the throes of evil as sheep without a shepherd and takes pity on us. But he doesn’t just rescue us from harm to live untroubled lives. Jesus saves us for something bigger — to labor in the harvest of righteousness. The Lord needs us to be concerned with much more than driving out demons as a demonstration of justice. Jesus drives out our demons as a process of liberation to serve as we join him in proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom!