Defeating A Legion – Mark 5:1-20

The man’s words always chill my soul a little: “My name is Legion, for we are many.”

The demon-possessed man, tormented, prone to self-harm, both afraid and fearsome to others, this man encountered Jesus among the tombs. Jesus cast the demons out, sending them into a herd of pigs, which further terrified those who witnessed the miraculous event.

It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around such a dark, yet somehow hopeful tale, of spiritual warfare. It is so much easier to talk about church life, kingdom life, as if it is only about solving some current social problem. “Civil strife, global warming, pollution, world poverty…that’s more than enough for us to handle….leave the other-worldly stuff to whoever wants to make the latest sci-fi thriller.”

But not so fast.

There is good, historical precedent for our taking at least a little time thinking about how to confront the dark forces around us. I, for one, believe they are real. I cannot explain them easily – and I don’t think Hollywood has the last word on what they are like – but I believe they are real. I find no other explanation for the depth of evil I see at work, too often, around the world.

Still, I don’t usually lose a lot of sleep worrying about the unseen things that go bump in the night. Why? Because I am rock-solidly sure that they have already been defeated.

Evil won’t – can’t – ultimately win over love. Christ has already proven that. The Church, for all of her faults, and they are many, has already proven that. If you don’t think that – think seriously – seriously, carefully, not flippantly – about what our world might be like without the positive influences of the faith. Inquisition, holy wars, and clergy sex abuse not withstanding – I will still take a world with the Golden Rule and the teachings of Jesus in it – over one without them- any day.

There are still legions of demons out there – however you picture them – literally or figuratively. But, they are a beaten and battered group, on their way out, defeated – ultimately – by sacrificial love.

That…is very good news.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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