Sometimes, you open your mouth and your demons come out.
That's what happened in Mark 5 (and a few other places), when Jesus encountered the man in the cemetery. Jesus landed on the shore, and this man came running out screaming at Jesus, likely screaming more than what the Gospels record for us that he said (given what we can imagine about demons and their vocabulary). But here's what's neat about this story:
When Mark tells this story, he says that the man came running from the cemetery screaming. That's the first introduction we have to this man. We hear him screaming, Mark records his words for us, and we think that might just be who this guy is. Like, wow.
It's only after this introduction that Jesus identifies that this man has a demon and that Mark gives us some of his backstory. It's only after we start to wonder what this guy's problem is that we're told what his problem is. It's only after we've started to form an opinion of this guy that we learn that maybe we were too hasty in our judgment.
After all, it's not him speaking; it's his demons.
The same thing happens to all of us, and it happens to those with whom we come in contact every day. Sometimes, someone opens their mouth, and their demons come out. And if we don't understand what's happening right in front of us, we can often misjudge someone created in the image of God. We can often let ourselves form a quick opinion of them that has nothing to do with who they are.
Now, the world says this isn't possible. The world says that you are what you appear to be, and that at our most unfiltered moments, we reveal the most about ourselves. The more raw we are, the world says, the more likely it is that that's just who we are. The world wants us to judge a book by its cover...and then never read its pages. The world says that once you know who someone "really" is - which seems to always be revealed in their worst moment in the world's ideology - then you can put everything else into that perspective.
But what if that's not the case? What if the story of Jesus in Mark 5 is actually what happens? What if we aren't revealed most truly when our demons speak, but rather, when we are clothed and in our right mind?
The truth is that when Jesus walks onto that shore, none of us meets that man; we only meet his demons. And the truth is that the same thing is happening to us every day.
And sometimes, it's happening to others when they meet us.
Our demons do influence the way that we present ourselves. All of our experiences and challenges and trials and defeats - they have shaped us. They set our guard up against all kinds of things we might encounter in the world, and we're always on edge about touching darkness any more. So our hackles are up, and there are times we just come out screaming against anything and everything.
Except it's not anything and everything; it's something that we think threatens some kind of peace that we've reached with the broken lives that we live. It's something that poses a risk to the harmony we've found within ourselves. It's something that challenges the rut that we've settled into, just like Jesus pushes up against the actual demons in this man in the cemetery. But at our core, that's not who we are. It's who we've been conditioned to become because we haven't dealt with our experiences in the wholeness of God's healing from them (and sometimes, I confess, we can't on this side of eternity). And yet, all kinds of persons are forming opinions about us because of our demons...and we're forming opinions of them because of theirs.
So we have to be careful when we interact with one another, both to be mindful of the ways that our demons are speaking through our mouths...and the ways their demons are speaking, too. And we must be like Jesus and be able to proclaim the truth because it was not this man who came out of the cemetery screaming obscenities at Him. And it's often not the man or woman speaking unkindly to us. And it's often not us speaking unkindly to them.
Sometimes, we just open our mouths and our demons come out.
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