Christ the Great Interferer
The Great Interferer. How many of us think of Jesus as the Great Interferer. This is what C.S. Lewis, the famous English writer and professor from
Lewis admitted that as an atheist, he didn’t want God to exist. His pride, and a terrible prejudice against God, kept him from sincerely and honestly searching for truth, and for the Source of All Truth. He wanted to be left alone, and unconsciously knew that if he denied the existence of some Ultimate Authority, then he himself would be that very authority in his own live. Thus, he could live his life according to his own desires. This is a common self-deception for many people who want to live life in their own ego-centric ways. If there is no God and no absolute truth, than really there can’t be any unchangeable standard of good and evil; everything depends on me, and on what I make the standard out to be.
C.S. Lewis admitted that only when he finally decided to open his mind and examine the evidence in an unbias manner, did his pride lessen and did he allow the “Great Interferer,” as he called God, to enter his live. And God did truly interfere with his life, but in a most beautiful way. Lewis’ life radically changed for the better, as he himself would later admit – with joy and meaning and purpose - and he went on to become one of last century’s greatest Christian apologists. C.S. Lewis’ experience is interesting, because many people seem to be like him, afraid of God “interfering” in our lives.
We can see this clearly in the Gospel story of today. We hear about Jesus approaching a pathetic figure, a man devastated by his inner demons. This man had long ago forgotten his true identity, and lived among the tombs, with no clothes, with no self dignity, and with no hope to cast out the demons which enslaved him in utter darkness. The community from which he came had long given up on him. At one time, they had tried to keep him under guard, even binding him with chains, but to no avail. The demons within gave this man incredible strength to break his bonds, and flee into the desert to live among the dead in the tombs. In fact, society probably was happy to think of this man as already dead, so that he would no longer be a burden to them.
Well, one day our Lord sees this man in the desert, and realizes what a wretched figure he is. When Christ asks him his name, the poor man can only answer “Legion” because he could only see himself in relation to the “legion” of demons holding his life in bondage. Of course, Jesus came to bring the good news of salvation to the world, which implies bringing healing, and restoring people back to their original beauty. So he commands the demons to leave the man, and brings him back to his right mind. As a very real way to help the man realize that Christ truly cast out the demons from his soul, Jesus offered a concrete example. He commanded the demons to leave the man and go into a large herd of swine feeding on a nearby hill. And once He gave this command, immediately the demons possess the pigs and force them to rush down a steep bank into the lake, killing every one of them.
Now the herdsmen of the pigs witnessed all that had happened, and rushed off to tell the townspeople. Unfortunately, their focus was not on the incredible miracle of healing that Jesus performed, but more so on the destruction of their many swine. When the town people witnessed the scene, and saw the demon possessed man sitting quietly at the feet of Christ, they could only respond by saying, “Depart from us,” for they were filled with great fear, and probably a lot of anger.
A great miracle happens, yet the people ask Jesus to leave. Why? How can we understand this? Is it that the townspeople were like C.S. Lewis, and didn’t want Jesus to interfere with their comfortable lives? Were they upset that Jesus placed more value on this demon-possessed man, than the hundreds of swine that they possessed? The people obviously cared more about their own interests, and didn’t seem to want someone to interfere with their lives, and their skewed priorities.
The Gospel story acts as a great reminder to each one of us. What mixed up priorities do we have in life? Do we place our possessions before people; our interests before God; our hobbies and passions before the essential things of life?
You know, if we truly believe in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Master of our lives, than His priorities need to become our priorities; our life’s orientation needs to turn towards Him and His ways. Yes, God is the Great Interferer, as C.S. Lewis called Him. He does want to interfere with our lives, especially when our lives need to be interfered with. Jesus knows each of our weaknesses, and the temptations that lead us away from Him. He doesn’t want us to ever be satisfied with where we are at, but always wants to lead us into a deeper relationship with Him. He wants us to become more and more Christ-like as we journey through life. And to help us do that, He unabashedly interferes in our lives, when we allow Him.
I love walking with people on their Christian journey, and one of my favorite motto’s I learned years ago in seminary is how pastors are called to “comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comforted.” Now we all know about how the Good News of Jesus Christ brings us comfort in our moments of trial and weakness. We appreciate the Gospel at such times of need. Yet, we all don’t always appreciate when the time comes to “afflict the comforted.” Jesus Christ comforts us when necessary, but we need to also welcome Him when he is waking us up from our complacency and indifference, and when He is challenging us in our comfortable way of thinking.
That is why we have to hear, from time to time, about sensitive themes that people don’t always feel comfortable about - on casinos and the Gospel, on our love for money and the need for faithful stewardship, on unhealthy forms of “entertainment,” on reaching out to the entire world through missions, on leaving our comfort zones and concretely helping those in need all around us, and other such topics.
Jesus is the Great Interferer, but the beauty is that when we allow Him to interfere with our lives, we discover something amazing. His interference doesn’t lead to lives of bondage and misery, but the exact opposite occurs. Christ enters our hearts, changes our plans, gives new direction to our lives, and in the process we discover the true meaning of life, we enjoy the vibrant presence of our Creator, we experience life from an entirely new perspective. Thus, God’s interference doesn’t lead to dismal or regrettable changes, but instead to an exciting, refreshing, meaningful and renewing transformation of life!
I pray that each of us may reflect today on how and where the Great Interferer needs to interfere in our own lives. Instead of fighting against Him, may we open our hearts and minds to His interference, and realize that Jesus Christ the Great Interferer only wants what is best for us, and will guide us on that path of holy transfiguration!
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Holy Land Pilgrimage 2019