And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs.
We have a guest speaker with us today. J. R. Briggs is a, father of two. He has two teenage boys, along with his wife, and they, he has spent 15, he spent 15 years pastoring, pastoring on a staff of a mega church. He also, started a church, developed it, and the church is still thriving today. As a result of his, pastoral ministries, he has Eventually, well also, also he’s a prolific writer.
He’s contributed over 50 articles to Christianity Today and other periodicals and has authored or contributed to 13 books, most on scriptural studies and church life and leadership. His most recent book he’s contributed to, which I just bought yesterday, cause I was doing the research on all this, was five practices to help you engage with God through scripture.
It looks fantastic. In 2012, J. R. Started Kairos Partnerships, a consulting organization for both church leaders and organizations. He’s worked with many churches in pastoral succession processes, including smaller churches. Mid to large churches and mega churches. he is our consultant, in this process as well.
We looked at organizations. We evaluated a number of those of us on the succession team and brought a recommendation to our board. And basically, what we found was there’s some great organizations out there, but what sometimes happens with organizations, they basically bring a template. They have a template they want you to work through in a process.
The thing that I think, one of the things that really made us appreciate working with J. R. is, it’s his priority, clearly, to work with the church to not bring a template of how to do this or what it’s to look like to, to to walk in step with the spirit and the ins and outs, that that always involves to understand our church culture and history and really to enable us to preserve the legacy of the past and to chart a broad vision for the future.
I mean, we’re not trying to blow this place up and start a new model of church. God has built some beautiful things here, but We felt the need and have really appreciated having a consultant that’s assisting in that process with us. In the process of, engaging JR as our consultant, he offer, also offered and the team and the board agreed to this to my great appreciation.
To provide monthly sessions for myself and or Marian to just process with us as we are in a time of transition in our lives as well. JR has a definition of leadership that I would say is the one that I have liked more than any I’ve ever heard. Here is the definition of leadership. A leader is one who builds trust.
J. R. has been that for our succession team and for me personally, and I’m excited to have him build into you this morning as well.
Well, good morning. It’s good to be with you all. It has been such a joy to work with your pastor and, the succession team. And, I have worked with lots of different groups and I will say one of the things that I value about Pastor Mark is that his identity is not wrapped up in being a pastor. It’s what he does, he serves, he loves you all, but his identity is that he’s a child of God.
And that has made this opportunity, this transition, this succession, a very healthy one from the perspective of your senior pastor. So in a spirit of love and appreciation, can we just put our hands together and express our love to Mark?
Well, I know that you all have been in a series, on the book of Acts. I know you’ve only spent just a couple of weeks together on the book. You’re racing through it very quickly. and I understand you’ll be finishing next week. Pastor Mark encouraged me to in whatever direction I wanted to take, whatever I felt the Lord, had given to me that we will be looking at.
So we’re going to be taking a break. From the book of Acts for one week, and then you’ll finish up next week. Well, in acts, I know that you’ve explored God’s mission, which is the whole point of the book of Acts of following the spirit and the mission in the early church of what God was up to. But sadly, as we know in our culture, it’s no secret that we have a mission problem here in the United States.
I’m not talking a missions problem, but a mission problem. Here’s what I mean. A most recent poll was taken to residents of San Francisco and they asked this simple question, what do Christians do? And the response that came back, there were two main themes. And the first one is that Christians, they go to a lot of meetings and number two, they’re against stuff.
Friends, this is not the mission that God has given his people to fulfill. So this morning, I want us to get a glimpse of the heart of God and in the process of doing that, we’re want to look at the mission of God and how that relates. But be warned, the closer that you get to Jesus, the more responsibility he often gives to us and the more uncertainty we often experience.
But I can assure you that that’s where the adventure lies. Well, this morning I want to explore a Greek word with you. It’s the word oikos. Let me hear you say oikos. One more time. Oikos. Now, some of you are like, Oh, isn’t that the yogurt I had for breakfast this morning? Yes, that is the yogurt brand, but that is not what we’re going to be looking at here this morning.
The root of ikas is actually where we get our, the root behind that is the word house or home. In fact, if you think about it a little bit deeper, it’s kind of intended for household, but we could even. Have it include things like your, your circle of influence, your friends, your family, your trusted network of relationships.
So that’s your oikos. And by the way, everybody has an oikos. You have an oikos. Could be big or small, could be strong or weak, but you have an oikos. Your sphere of influence, the relationships that you have and that, that exist. In fact, in that oikos, sociologists actually say everybody lives in five different neighborhoods.
Five different neighborhoods. The first one is you live in a geographic neighborhood. That may be the most literal, the one we understand the most, right? The people that live on Columbia Avenue, where I’m from on the north side of Philadelphia, that’s my literal geographic oikos. There are others. You have a familial oikos.
These are aunts and uncles and cousins and, and, and, and all sorts of people that you would see at a family reunion. You also have a relational oikos. These are your friends that you enjoy spending time with. But you also have a psychographic neighborhood. That’s kind of a fancy word that, that sociologists use.
But it’s any, any people that live and think the way you do. Psyche, psyche, the way we think. So if you’re a Mac user, you know, you, you kind of clump together with other people that have a Mac, right? Or you go to the gym, you know, you’re, you’re in CrossFit, right? Those are kind of your tribe or your people.
I love swimming. I swim three days a week. Not very fast, but I enjoy it a great deal. And as I swim early in the morning, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I’m swimming next to Carl and Carrie. And Bill and Sam, they’re all with me. Sometimes they share a lane and we talk and catch up. I would not have known them if I did not swim.
They are in my psychographic neighborhood. Then of course we all live in a digital neighborhood. Those of you who are on social media, you know, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, these are the people that you learn from and they learn from you in that. And one of the most strategic things that you can do as a follower of Jesus is to just take five or ten minutes of your time sometime this afternoon or the next few days and to actually list out everybody that you know in your five neighborhoods.
To really be aware of the oikos that you have. Now, I want to press pause right now on the word oikos, and I want to give you a little bit of background of the passage we’re going to look at, and then we’re going to read the passage and unpack it together. So just stick a pin in the corkboard of our minds right here with oikos, we’ll come back to that.
I want to give you some background. I had the privilege in the fall of 1999 as a college student to spend a semester abroad living on Mount Zion at a place called Jerusalem University College. I now have the privilege of serving on the board for JUC. And by the way, it’s very difficult to run a college in the middle of a war.
We would really appreciate, as you pray for the Israel Hamas conflict, that you’d also pray for Jerusalem University College. But as a student, as a student, I had the opportunity and the privilege of exploring all around Israel. Now Israel is about the size of the state of New Jersey. Not very big, but very important in terms of world history and news and even today, of course.
When I lived and studied in Israel in college, one weekend we biked from the Mediterranean Sea in the west, all the way across to the Sea of Galilee. You can see that there in the north, that body of water on the north. And it only took us a weekend. It’s not a very big country. Not a very big country. Now you see the Sea of Galilee there in the north.
Sea of Galilee is shaped like a harp. Often in scripture it’s referred to as Lake Kinneret. Kinneret in Hebrew means harp. Harp lake. Kind of looks like a harp. Kind of cool. It’s 13 miles north to south. 8 miles east to west. This is where Jesus spent the majority of his time in his life. This is where the disciples grew up.
They saw the majority of Jesus’s miracles in his life. It’s a beautiful place to be even today. Significant fishing industry still exists on the Sea of Galilee. Many of you have maybe have been there before. Now the topography of the area is very interesting. The Sea of Galilee actually sits in a bowl.
You see, there’s lots of mountains, sometimes there’s, steep banks that just run right into the water. And oftentimes, meteorologists say that when a storm comes, when the hot air is trying to rise and the cold air is trying to come down in the midst of that bowl, what that’s called an inversion. And inversion happens in tense storms on this lake.
Now, there’s something you also need to know about the Sea of Galilee, that there are two sides to the lake, two cultural differences to the Sea of Galilee. On one side, the western side, is very Jewish. They were monotheistic. In other words, they, this is where they worshiped the one true God, Yahweh. They spoke Hebrew.
They kept kosher laws. Towns that maybe you’ve heard of as you’ve read the scriptures of Capernaum and Bethsaida and Magdala. But on the eastern side, separated by just a little body of water on this lake, on the eastern side was the Greek side. They were polytheistic. They worshipped lots of different gods, many different gods in pagan temples.
They spoke Greek. They did not keep kosher laws. And over there they had what’s called the Decapolis, the ten cities of culture, rich culture in Greek, in the Greek culture. And these were massive cultural differences separated by only a few miles of water. It would be like us saying, we’re going to cross the Rio Grande River.
We aren’t just crossing a body of water, we’re crossing from one culture to another. Different language and food and fashion and entertainment, customs, currency. So the posture often was, you stay on your side of the lake, Jewish people, we’ll stay on our side of the lake as Greek people. We didn’t want to have like a west side story, east side story kind of thing.
Like you just do your thing, we’ll stay here. So we explore this passage here in just a moment. I want you to take the background of Oikos and the background around the Sea of Galilee because it’s going to matter. You may be thinking, why are you telling me all this information? Hold on. The lights are going to light up on your dashboard in just a couple minutes.
We’re going to connect some dots here. But as we begin to read this story in just a moment, I want to encourage you. To be thinking through these questions. If you were there and you saw this story we’re about to read unfold, what might you be thinking? What might you be feeling if you watched it? Why do you think this story is in our Bibles?
Why do you think Mark, the author, included it? What does he want us to understand about who Jesus is? And what might the Spirit want us, as followers of Jesus, Or even those of us considering Jesus to do with this story. So with that being said, I want to encourage you to turn to Mark chapter 5. Mark chapter 5.
If you’re new, in terms of the Bible, it’s in the New Testament. Second, book of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, and Mark chapter 5. And I want to encourage you, if you are physically able, would you stand as I read this passage of Scripture? Please stand with me. Mark chapter 5 verses 1 to 20.
They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot. But he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet.
No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day, among the tombs and in the hills, he would cry out and cut himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his feet in front of him. And he shouted at the top of his voice, What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
Swear to God that you won’t torture me. For Jesus had said to him, come out of this man, you evil spirit. And Jesus asked him, what is your name? My name is Legion, he replied, for we are many. And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside.
The demons begged Jesus, send us among the pigs. Allow us to go into them. And he gave them permission. And the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about 2, 000 in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened.
When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons sitting there, dressed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon possessed man, and told about the pigs as well. And when the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region, as Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him.
Jesus did not let him, but said, go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you. So the man went away and began to tell him the Decapolis, how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. These are the words of God. You may be seated.
Now, if you are a first time guest, you might be thinking, Wow, I picked a unique Sunday to come to Fellowship Church. But I want us to unpack this story because it’s a bit jolting. It’s unique. But let’s look at this together. How about that first verse there? And they went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.
In other words, they’re moving from the western side, the Jewish side, to the eastern side, to the Greek side. Now, hopefully some light bulbs are going off on your dashboard right now of going, Oh, this is a culture clash. This is a new territory of which Jesus and the disciples were going. We don’t know how often the disciples actually went to the other side, but it certainly would be foreign territory and very unique for them.
There’s so many cultural levels to this that when I was in college, in one of my Bible courses, I actually wrote a 20 page paper on just this verse alone. Now don’t worry, I’m not going to unpack all of that here. But I want us to understand the cultural difference that was happening here. It says when Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him.
Now, right away, Mark wants us to understand the connection between tombs and death and this man.
He’s a crazed man, incredible strength, no one can resist him, self destructive. Think of the fear that would strike your community if you knew this man was on the loose. In fact, verse 5, it says, Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. Parents, clearly this is not the type of guy you want your daughter bringing home from college for Thanksgiving meal.
But can you imagine being a parent there of young children, trying to put your kid to bed and you hear echoing off the hillsides around the Sea of Galilee, these screams from this crazed man. The nightmares this might have induced in small children. And it says that he sees Jesus. And he runs to him from the tombs.
He runs down to him and he falls on at his feet and he at the top of his, what do you want from me? Jesus, son of the most high God, what do you want? And he says, don’t torture me. Now, if you were a disciple and you saw this crazed man sprinting toward Jesus, what would you and your buddies be thinking?
Can you imagine the sight of that? Can you imagine what that might look like?
And think of the admission that he makes. Jesus, Son of the Most High God. And one of the things I love about the book of Mark is the incredible irony that Mark highlights again and again and again throughout the whole book. It seems here that the only one That understands Jesus for who he really is in the entire book right away are not the religious people.
If you read the book of Mark, you’ll notice the people, the groups that actually understand who Jesus is most quickly and most accurately are the demons. And the people that struggle slowly to understand exactly who Jesus is, are the disciples, the ones who spend the most time with them.
And then Jesus in verse nine does something that very few of us would do in this situation. He asked him a question. He says, what’s your name? He didn’t shun him. He didn’t run away from him. He didn’t curse him. He wasn’t afraid of him. Jesus just asked the man a question, a relational connection question.
What’s your name? And he says, my name is legion where he probably says, my name is legion, you know, or something like that, which seems fitting of course, because legion is a military term, which means lots and lots of armed men. This is one powerful, dangerous dude. He doesn’t have one dangerous demon in him.
He has many, many demons inside of him. And yet in verse 10. It says, and he begged Jesus again and again, not to send them out of the area. Think about that. You’ve got dangerous, tons, a legion of demons inside this man. He goes, Oh, please, please, please, please don’t send me out. Now, if you think about begging, begging is only done by someone where someone else has authority.
Someone who’s in a higher role of control or power or authority for something to happen. Begging, begging is about permission and permission is about the authority of someone else in power. The demons understand the authority of who Jesus is. Are you tracking here? This is significant stuff that Mark wants us to notice.
And we hear about in verses 11 and 12, this large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside. One of the largest industries in our area, about five minutes away on the north side of Philadelphia is Hatfield Quality Meats. If you’re a Phillies fan and you watch highlights, you’ll notice right behind home plate the sign that says Hatfield Meats.
If you’ve been to a ball, the ballpark, you know, you probably had a Hatfield dog. So that’s five minutes from my house. So anytime I’m going to the bank, which is right next to Hatfield, I’m going to Lowe’s, which is right next to Hatfield Quality Meats. Oftentimes we’re at a stoplight and we see huge trucks with hundreds of pigs on them.
When my kids were little they would say, Hello piggy, goodbye piggy.
So we’re used to seeing pigs frequently around our house. But pigs, why were they nearby? With this crazed man because on the Greek side there are no kosher laws as a Jew You would never eat or touch a cheeseburger. You would never have a hot dog You would never be around pigs, but on the eastern side the Greek side That’s there are pigs everywhere
and the legion of demons inside this crazed man say don’t send us away Just send us into the pigs Just send us into the pigs and Jesus gives them permission another indication of authority Jesus wants us to see again that Jesus was the one who had authority and the demons knew this So they go into the pigs and then the pigs run.
I would imagine squeal and go crazy off the steep cliffs And right into the water. Can you imagine the sight of 2000 crazed pigs running down the mountain and right into the water? Jesus caused a pig farmer to lose a ton of money that day.
Can you imagine seeing the sight of those hooves bobbing up and down out in the sea of Galilee?
And it says in verse 15, sitting there dressed and in his right mind, the people were afraid. They’re going, what in the world just happened? What a turn of events, they must have been asking, Who is this stranger from the other side of the lake?
And it says, and they begged him. There’s begging again. They begged him to leave the area. Please get out of here, you’ve caused such a ruckus. There’s been so much chaos. Farmers have lost some, some money here today. Go to the other side of the lake. And Jesus, in verse 18, in all of his humility, does something astonishing.
He actually obliges their request.
He didn’t have to, he could have been angry and struck them dead, done something even crazier than what he did with the pigs, but instead he gets in the boat and he complies with their request. But this is the focus of the passage I want us to look at, the last few verses of this story.
Verse 18, it says, As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go with him, and Jesus did not let him. What? Why not? I think if I were in that position, I would say, Man, I’ve changed this guy’s life. This would be a perfect person to have on my PR team. This man’s life has been changed.
I want to say, don’t take my word for it. Let this guy share. Let this person give you an understanding of my power. But he did not let him. Was Jesus being mean? No. Verse 19. He says, Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you. Do you know what word Jesus uses there for your own people?
Go home to your Oikos. Go home to your sphere of influence. Go home to the people that know you, that saw you grow up when you were a kid, that work with you, that live down the street from you. Go home to your oikos and tell them all the things the Lord has done for you and the mercy that he’s had on you.
In verse 20, it says, And so the man went away, and he began to tell the Decapolis, the ten cities, the ten Greek cultural cities, how much Jesus had done for him, and all the people were amazed.
There are two elements of this story that I absolutely love. The first one is this, is that discipleship is always on Jesus’s terms, not ours. This is really important in our American consumeristic culture. That every time someone asked Jesus if they could follow him, Jesus said no.
Or Jesus made the stakes so high that person couldn’t do it. But Jesus was always asking others to follow him. What I take from that is, Jesus, he wants to know will you submit and surrender to me and my purposes for your life? Or am I just a convenient add on? Jesus says, you come to me on my terms, not on yours.
Jesus calls people to follow him, not the other way around. And sometimes we forget that discipleship is not about what we want and how we follow Jesus. But it’s about what Jesus desires for our lives no matter what the cost might be. Discipleship is radical, it is purposeful, and it is a lifelong decision to become like Jesus by embodying His message and His mission.
But the second thing I take away from this is the power of our Oikos. You have a powerful Oikos. Go home to your Oikos, your five neighborhoods, Jesus says, and tell them all the things that I’ve done for you and the mercy that I’ve had on you. Jesus isn’t being mean to the guy. He’s being strategic. He understands the power of the man’s oikos.
This Greek man on the eastern shore goes over to the Jewish side, the western shore, and he would have been lost. He would have started over. Here’s one of the most significant parts of this story that I love. It’s what happens after the story. A few pages later in your Bible, to the right, the next time Jesus actually returns to the eastern side, the Greek side of the lake, He is mobbed.
Like a rock star. Why? Because the man did what Jesus asked him to do.
I love the amazing impact that fellowship has had on global missions. This is such a wonderful vision. And I love that. And God is so honored by the significant work that we do overseas in supporting missionaries and organizations that are advancing the gospel. But in the midst of that, I want to encourage us to not lose sight of the opportunity for mission that we have right under our own noses.
Across the ocean is great, but so is across the street, to the ends of the world, but also to the ends of your road or your cul de sac, your oikos, your sphere of influence. The already existing relationships in your life is the most fertile ground for impact that you have for the gospel. What’s already there and you might be tempted to say I’m not a pastor.
I can’t do that I’ve never been to seminary But it doesn’t matter because you have the person of the Holy Spirit living inside of you and the example of Jesus And we can read about in the scriptures to guide us and we can trust him in that the Spirit is our friend He is our guide. Do you realize that you have more influence in your sphere of influence?
Than even your pastors here
Do you know why? Because your pastors don’t live in the oikos that you live in. You have an oikos that no one else does. The neighborhoods that you live in are very powerful and there’s trust that already exists there. That is the most powerful opportunity you have to live out the gospel with your already existing oikos.
I mentioned I, I studied in Israel, following my junior year. Changed my life. And one of the things we got to do was go on a field trip. It was one of our last field trips before coming home for the semester. We actually went to the location, which is a little town called Kersey, where they believe this story happened.
My professor taught from there and we could see the steep banks and we could just envision those pigs jumping off and into the water. And our professor said, I’m going to give you 10 or 15 minutes to do whatever you want. You can walk around, you can pray, you can read the story again in your Bible, whatever will meet you back at the bus.
And I read that story again, and it was a powerful, powerful experience with God. I almost felt like that was my commissioning service because I really wanted to stay in Israel. I didn’t want to go home. It was so life changing. I was kicking and screaming to have to get back on a plane and go home because I wanted to stay there.
But I really sensed God and His Spirit in that moment, commissioning me to say, Jer, go home to your oikos, go home to your sphere of influence and tell everybody how, how much God has done in your life and the mercy that He’s shown you throughout this semester. It was a powerful time for me, and I went home and did that.
Well, shortly after coming home during January term, I had put together, some, some photo albums. And for those of you under 30, a photo album is where you print out photos, you put them in a book, you turn pages. And I developed this photo, these, these three photo albums of my experience. My grandfather lived three hours south of where I went to college.
And, and I called my grandfather and he invited me to come and, and spend a weekend with him. My grandmother had passed away a handful of years prior. my grandfather is a good man, but he, he lived a very, very hard life. And we saw my grandfather’s anger come out oftentimes when we would visit, but no greater than when politics or religion was brought up.
My mother came to faith basically on her own without the influence of her parents. And she prayed for 30 years that her father would come to faith in Jesus. But anytime religion came up, he always, I got angry, pushed away from the table and said, I’m not going to participate. And he’d storm out of the room.
Once I was packing to take my things and throw them in the backseat and my duffel bag, to head down to spend the weekend with my grandfather, I thought, you know what? I’m just going to throw my albums in just in case. In case Grandpa might be interested. So, we head down and Sunday morning, he’s not going to church, so Sunday morning we sat around and talked around the breakfast table and I said, Grandpa, I, I brought my albums.
Would you be interested in seeing the last semester when I was in Israel? He said, I’d love to. So I’m flipping through the pages and explaining where we went and what we did. And he flips to the last page and shuts it and my heart starts beating hard. And I said, Grandpa, do you know why my trip to Israel was so impactful?
He said, no, I, I, I’ve wondered my heart starts beating more. And I said, as great as these experiences were of hiking and climbing and going to these places, I really encountered God in such a unique and real way. Like never before. And my heart, I can feel it just pounding on my chest. I’m waiting for him to get angry and push away from the table.
And I said, grandpa, can I tell you how Jesus has impacted me? In this past semester and he said, yeah, and I shared instead of getting angry, my, my grandfather actually leaned in and he was asking questions and wanting to know more and I could almost feel my heart pounding at this point audibly. And I said, grandpa, is that something you want to enter into to this God who doesn’t just love me?
He loves you as well. And he wants to invite you into a life of forgiveness and joy and peace and love like you’ve never experienced. I’m just waiting for him to stand up and push away from the table. But instead, crocodile tears start rolling down his cheeks. And one of the greatest moments of my life.
Had the privilege of leading my grandfather to know Jesus for the first time.
And on my way home, I stopped to a payphone. For those of you under 30, a payphone is where you walk in, you have to put a quarter in, you call someone. And I called my mom. And I said, Mom, I couldn’t even get it out. I said, Mom, you know that 30 year prayer? God answered your prayer today. Grandpa decided to follow Jesus for the first time.
My mom starts weeping. I start weeping. And I’m driving back, just in silence, amazed at what God had done that morning. And then it hit me. It hit me so hard. The tears started flowing so hard I had to pull over on the side of the road. I thought back to that day, that commissioning service at Kersey, where that story took place we just read.
Go home to your family and tell them all the things the Lord has done for you and the mercy that he’s had on you.
I was thinking it was going to be family as in metaphorical, you know, my sphere of influence. Little did I know it would actually be my literal family. One of the most significant ways that we can live out the truth is by seeing our oikos as our mission field. You have an oikos. It could be in the boardroom, the classroom, the playroom, the living room.
That’s your oikos. We like to say at our church that every Christian is a missionary, cleverly disguised as a good neighbor. You are a missionary cleverly disguised as a plumber, a teacher, an attorney, a contractor, a salesman, a stay at home mom. Which means that if we think like a missionary, we have to ask some pressing questions.
Three P’s. People, place, or problem. People, to whom are we being sent? Your oikos. Place, where are you being sent? And problem. Is there an issue or a problem or a need that God has burdened you to bring about hope and healing people place problem. And maybe the most strategic thing you can do is to draw a diagram of your street, your apartment complex, your road, your development, the cubicles at your job, the office layout, and to commit to pray for everyone on it for the next few weeks.
Ironically, do you know who, what group of people does this better in terms of thinking about their oikos, their neighborhood? Ironically, ironically, it’s the Mormons. You know what they do? They equip their young adults, their teenagers. And they send them out with a backpack, a Bible, and a map of their neighborhood.
And they say, go. Christians, we can do better. We can do better. One of the things, I want you to imagine if Jesus had said to his disciples, you know, it’s not wise to go over to that side of the lake. They’re disgusting. They eat pigs. They have temples. They serve many gods. We don’t want to be polluted by their unspiritual ways.
They have different customs and cultures and rituals than we do. We’re good Jews. And we don’t want to be near that stuff. That’s unacceptable. But I am glad that Jesus’s love for others isn’t about respectability. I’m glad Jesus’s love is so outlandish that it involves getting dirt under your fingernails.
Imagine if we took seriously our oikos. And imagine if a poll was recently done in this region. And people were asked, what do Christians do? What if they answered, they tell me openly and excitedly about what God has done. And about the mercy that he’s had on them. And they told me that mercy is available to me as well.
Well, what would it look like if you took your oikos seriously? Trusting this power that Jesus has to overcome even the craziest of circumstances, like legion. If he can help legion, he can help you. If he can change legion’s life, he can help the people in your oikos as well. May you and I be the kinds of people that take Jesus seriously, that take our oikos seriously and trust him in the mission field that’s right under our noses.
Let’s pray. Jesus, thank you for this story, the story that jolts us, but is an important story that helps us understand our oikos and the power of it, and helps us understand that you truly are merciful, that you love us, and that you want us to share with others around us how good you are and the mercy that you’ve shown to us.
If you can rescue a man that has multiple, numerous demons, then nobody’s out of the reach of God’s love. Amen. Help us to be those kinds of people that are willing to take our Oikaw seriously. And it’s the name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.