Wednesday, December 14, 2016
When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They came out of the tombs and were so violent that no one could go through that area. They began screaming at him, “Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God’s appointed time?” There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.” “All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water. The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone. Matthew 8:28-34 (NLT)
Stories are legion about big businesses being taken-down. Enron was Houston’s golden child of an energy mega-corporation. Formed in 1985, it was originally a regional natural gas cooperative. Then, through a series of mergers it grew fantastically! In 2000 it reported revenues of 101 billion. The report was somewhat exaggerated. Through a series of manipulative and illegal accounting practices, shell companies, and offshore fantom entities, the leaders of the company had taken advantage of deregulation in the energy market to fill their pockets…and they were some pretty large pockets! When the irregularities and illegalities were brought to the surface in 2001 it brought about the disassembling of Enron like a piñata in a wood chipper. Some went to prison!
Compare this to a small conglomerate of pig herders. When Jesus arrived in Gadera he was met by a bunch of demons inhabiting and trying to destroy two men. The battle that ensued was short. The demons immediately understood the power Jesus possessed to dispossess them of their hold on the men, so they begged him to let them enter the herd of pigs nearby. Jesus consented, and the pigs, driven to a wild frenzy by the presence of the demons, stampeded off the nearest cliff.
That is a sad story for the pigs, but we must never lose sight of the healed men. Which is exactly what the herdsmen did. Jesus was bad for their business, and they begged him to leave town – and what was implied in their request: …don’t come back!
The common thread running through Enron and Gadera’s piggy bankers is protecting the bottom line. Let’s face it, when faith begins to whittle away at capitalism’s profit margin, prophets have got to give way to profits!
The flip side of this is using faith to generate bigger profits. There have always been those who used faith to manipulate the easily convinced to part with big bucks. Television is the home to some so-called “ministries” that produce lavish lifestyles for the religious personalities and their producers. More flash than faith!
None of this is new under God’s heaven. There will be more of the same materialism-is-king brand of false faith coming out of Madison Avenue and Hollywood in this Christmas season. And if Jesus shows up because the demons are oppressing people, there are those who will buy him a one-way ticket to anywhere but here.
Recognizing false faith is a task that requires a Christian to stay awake! This is that time of year when having some “holy NO-Doze” in your spiritual tool bag would be a good thing!