What Pulls Us


The Gospel of Luke 8:26-39

At that time, as Jesus arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, there met him a man from the city who had demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes and he lived not in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him; he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what happened, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country. 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 he who had been possessed with demons was healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gadarenes asked him to depart from them; for they were seized with great fear; so he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but he sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.


The Gospel lesson for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost presents us with a man who is being pulled in many directions.  He is possessed by demons, notice I said demons and not a demon for the demons told Jesus they are called legion for they are many.  The word Legion comes from the Latin meaning the leader of an Army Division of about six thousand men.  The poor soul in the story was being pulled to pieces by conflicting interests and drives that made him appear to have more than one personality.

Sometimes we are like the man in the story.  As Orthodox we do not deny the existence of demons and we believe in spiritual warfare and it would appear that modern psychology agrees with us in this regard.  There are demons of greed, guilt, fear; the high pressure demonology of modern competition, stress, conflict and the myriad of others that pull is in many directions at once.

For most of us we have split personality of you will.  We are different people in different situations.  We have the person that we think we are, and then there is the person that we project to others.  There is the person we are at church and the person we are outside of church we are trying to live several lives at one time and that is not working.  Jesus tells us in the Gospel that we cannot serve to masters; we cannot serve both God and mammon.  We cannot serve both God and the crowd, God and Satan we need a single unifying force to bring all of our “selves” together and that is the person of Jesus Christ!

In order for us to develop a mature personality we must be integrated around a single goal in our lives.  Once again we turn to Jesus for the answer, seek first the kingdom of God!  Not only do we suffer from split personalities we suffer from split loyalties, we are partly for Christ but only if it does not get in the way of what we want and what we want to do.  We are either all in or we are all out, there is no middle ground here.  We must integrate our lives around the greatest goal in the universe, God, in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, without question.

We need to surrender all of our life not just part of it.  We need to turn over our whole life and just part of it.  We need to let Christ sit on the throne of our hearts and become the chairman of the board of our lives then, and only then, will our ambitious self, the angry self, the jealous self, and the sinful self start to come under control.

We see a man, dwelling in the tombs possessed by man demons, and then we see us sitting in the pews fighting the same fight today, the problem is a divided heart, a divided allegiance, a divided self.  There is no way out of this divided condition except through the complete surrender of us, of our entire self, to Christ as Lord and Master of our lives.

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