Jesus said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Mark 5: 1-19
The story is bewildering. It sounds like foreign language. This should not blind us to the fact of its central message. This has to do with the setting of the jewel and not the jewel itself. It tells of what Christ did for a man long ago and also what he can do for the soul today giving him a chance.
Some think that religion has more weight than wings. That its best benefits are rather trifles. But in these seeming trifles are the great things – priceless. Supreme things.
“Tell what great things the Lord has done for thee.”
Have you such a story to tell? What is the Lord is doing for you? Can it be described by the word “Great”? If not, you have lost your spiritual birthright. Your religion is not to you for which it is intended. But not God’s fault. Whenever Christ has a chance, great things happen to that soul – such is here the case.
Look at the man describe in Mark 5 – the description must have come from the pen of an eyewitness. The boat had hardly landed when this ghastly figure rushed out from the tombs half naked – unkept, half mad. A person with whom we feel little kinship. We are far saner and more respectful. The difference, however, is that of degrees rather than in kind.
What was his trouble? A divided personality. In answer to Jesus, my name is Legion. Not one, but many. Not so much a personality as a battleground. He was at war with himself. Being pulled in a thousand different directions – thousands of impulses and passions were warring with his soul. Such we meet today in the hospitals on the streets and in our homes. Not so pronounced, but the conflict is there. All know something of the tragedy of a divided personality.
This fact is emphasized in modern psychology. We are possessed with conscious and subconscious minds. In the subconscious mind are the driving instincts that have come to us from our ancestors. Instincts without conscience. Have a conscience, we say. Here is no moral sense. Gratified in their one fulfillment without attention to right or wrong. But in the conscious mind there is the sense of oughtness. I must do this or I must not do that. The conscious mind rises up against the subconscious mind. Our ideas fight with our instincts. Our higher self fights battles with our lower self.
A divided personality – incarnate civil war, victims of the deepest of deepest conflicts. The conflict with ourselves. Long before modern psychology, Bible writers discovered this fact. Divided personalities, conscious and subconscious mind. Here is a man who is conscious that he loves the Lord. A man of piety and prayer. He is kneeling with his face turned up to God. But there is another self, refusing to kneel. Laughing and jeering at him when his higher self seeks to pray. Out of the agony of such conflict he cries to God, “Unite my heart to fear thy name.” He prays for unified personality, a wholehearted devotion to God.
Here is another who is deeply religions, but seems more sensitive to the lure of evil than to the good. In spite of this he cannot give himself wholly to the lower. He has gone in to the far country of his choice, but he can’t feel at home there. Therefore, he cries out in his prayer “My soul cleaveth unto the dust, quicken thou me according to thy word,”
The man of the text being at war with himself was naturally wretched. Always night and day crying and cutting himself with stones. Fighting himself, always his worst enemy. He is a stranger to happiness. No one with a divided personality can ever be happy.
Here is another great soul in the midst of the age-old conflict, Paul. He is headed for the high road, but when he begins to climb, he slips. He cries out “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me.” I know of a man who lived in excellent circumstances, committed suicide and left this as an explanation. “I was tired of fighting with myself.”
The man of the text being divided and wretched was also antisocial, separated himself from his fellows. Lived alone, no one could tame him. At war with himself. At war with others. It is ever so to ascertain degree with all who have a divided personality. We explode, slam the door, break the dishes. Stab right and left with the sword, the tongue. Tell how poorly we slept how badly we feel and call it our nerves. But so often it is for the lack of inward harmony. Those torn with inward strife are hard to live with. The demoniac being unable to live with others was equally unable to live for others.
He was or had a divided personality. He was wretched. He was antisocial and he was incurable. He had no hope for himself. Others had no hope for him. He was beyond help. No one could tame him. Divided wretched, unable to live with or for others. An extreme case. Few can recognize any kinship with him. But his needs were and are our needs. What Jesus did for him is just what Jesus longs to do for each of us. He is still able to save to the uttermost.
What did Jesus do for him? He gave him a unified personality. He can do that for us. We can hardly reach the high goal except through him. Certainly no one can find the inward peace by yielding to the basic self. And whatever one may do, he can’t quite hush the voice that calls from the heights.
Lady Macbeth, the most heartless woman of all literature, seemed to have had her prayer answered when she prayed to the demons to take her milk for gall. She could turn her husband to a murdering traitor. Plot the death of her royal guest with devilish eagerness. She was so bad to seem to have no feeling. But not so in her waking hours she was by force able to hide the conflict raging within. Asleep the conflict reveals itself when she seeks to cleanse her hands from the bloody deed. “Out damn spot, out I say.”
We find the unified personality by taking the high road, not the low road. Listen once more to Paul’s anguish cry “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me? Who indeed? Is there no answer? There is “I thank God through Jesus Christ. Thus, he sings “there is therefore no condemnation.” No inward strife, the heart no longer condemns us. With Christ’s gift of a unified personality there is inward peace. A surrendered life to him does just that. Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.
Every man’s religion ought to give him that inward unity which has its assurance in inward peace.
Jesus enabled this man to live with and for his fellows. To live with and for those with who it was impossible for him to live before this contact with Jesus. The broken home. The man met Christ and Christ enabled him to go back and rebuild the broken home. This is the Christian test. This is the test that every man should put his religion to. Can you get along with people? A Christian will certainly be able to meet the test. Live with them and for them.
Here are some of the things that our Lord can do for us. Give us unified personalities and inward peace. Enable us to live with and for our fellows.
How are we to set out to realize the great things the Lord longs to do for us? The first step, repent the and be converted. Old fashion term you say. But if it is and our group has dropped the term, psychologist have taken it up. Conversion is a fact. We may be born anew. We can be born from above or below.
The young man, the Christian, a ministerial student, hopeful. Bright outlook. Well thought of promising. A few years later, I met him. He had become associated with scoundrels and in their fellowship had become reborn, born from below. To be born from above must change the master passion of our lives. Instead of self-centered must become Christ-centered. Matthew, follow me, he did, that was his spiritual birthday. Jack London discovers this in “The Call of the Wild” as Buck becomes the hero. On the way to arrive, the master dies. Buck is reborn by the old instincts. A dog needs a master, he cannot arrive without a master.
When a man arrives at his best something has mastered him. It is not what he possesses but what possesses the man.
We need a Master. Put your hand in his and he will change your discord into winsome music. Take a chance to meet your Master face-to-face.
I Met the Master Face to Face by Lorrie Cline
I had walked life’s way with an easy tread,
Had followed where comforts and pleasures led,
Until one day in a quiet place,
I met the Master face to face.
With station and rank and wealth for my goal,
Much thought for my body but none for my soul,
I had entered to win in life’s mad race,
When I met the Master face to face.
I had built my castles and built them high,
With their domes had pierced the blue of the sky,
I had sworn to rule with an iron mace,
When I met the Master face to face.
I met Him and knew Him and blushed to see,
That His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me;
And I faltered and fell at His feet that day,
While my castles melted and vanished away.
Melted and vanished, and in their place,
Naught else did I see but the Master’s face.
And I cried aloud, “Oh, make me meek,
To follow the steps of Thy wounded feet.”
My thought is now for the souls of men,
I have lost my life to find it again,
E’er since one day in a quiet place,
I met the Master face to face.
From Grandpa’s Whit and Wisdom, Devotions compiled by Liza Weidle / January 2023