Why is it that when we encounter something we don't understand, we either have to destroy it, or drive it away? I didn't mean to start out with a question, but that's what happened when I started typing.
Even as a kid, I remember times when a stray dog would come into the yard and the first thing I would do is drive it off. I don't know why, because I actually like dogs. I don't think I was taught to do that, so does that make it instinct? Is there something within us that is so terrified of the unfamiliar, or the different, that we cannot allow it to remain near? And what if that something is in no way malicious, but is only perceived as being a threat?
I've noticed a pattern as I study the gospels. There are times in Christ's ministry when he has entered a town, or a village, performed some miracle, and then been run out of town. Have you noticed that? The healing of the demon possessed man in the Gerasenes is one of those. This guy had been terrorizing the village for who knows how long. They couldn't chain him up, because he would just break the chains. He spent all of his time in the tombs and would cut himself and cry out all night. Evidently he was a real menace to society, but then Jesus showed up.
Jesus commanded the spirits to leave the man, they did, and as we flash to the next scene, and this is kind of funny for me, I picture the guy and Jesus sitting around playing cards or something like that. Something totally normal, quiet; you know, something that folks in their right mind would do.
I would think that the folks in that little lakeside village would have been tickled to death that this guy had been cured, but no, no they weren't. Maybe they were ticked that their pigs were gone (we know he wasn't on the Jewish side of that lake by this one little fact...just FYI). Maybe they were afraid of his power. Maybe they weren't sure how to deal with the no longer demon possessed, demon possessed man. We don't know, but they ran Jesus out of town.
What would have happened if they had welcomed them both in? What would have happened if I had taken in one of the stray dogs as a kid? What would happen if we began to look differently at those folks we keep away ourselves?
Maybe I'm just rambling this morning. Perhaps I should wait until the second cup of coffee to start typing, but these are some of the things I think about. There's a whole world of people who are on the fringes, kept away from somebody by something, just waiting to be welcomed in, and we can help break the cycle. The question is, can we let them stay long enough for us, and them, to see that they are people of sacred worth?