If He and we are free

“Be silent, and come out of him!”

Would not have made a blockbuster. Might just have made YouTube. Or Twitter. But probably never to go viral. Too “mundane” – not the stuff of drama – not a story worth the effort or expense. No revolving heads. No projectile vomiting. No levitation. Just a bit of:

”And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.

I have watched The Exorcist. Seen the revolving head. The levitation. The bodily fluids. The screaming and cussing. The fear. The horror and sweat and energy required to exorcise a demon. All that ritual and mumbo-jumbo. The sprinkling and the words.

Rite and ritual? Preparing for worship? Pumping up the bandwidth of our connection to God? Primping our souls to be in the presence of the Almighty? Tuning in – and all that other stuff we do so habitually and faithfully?

“When the sabbath came, Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching – with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.” Mark 1:21-28

The scribes were great at pulling together the opinions of other teachers. Were versed in verses and interpretations of others scribes. Were great at the law. Presented and patented. Packaged and boxed. Neat and tidy. Distant and distancing.

Their day job.

“Be silent, and come out of him!”

That is no day job. That is not neat and tidy. That is not ritual. That is not pumping up the bandwidth. That is not tuning in to God.

That is God.

And maybe if we were to set aside some of “the equipment”, the routines and the add-ons we love so much, all that “preparing for worship” – all “that stuff” …

Maybe if we were to remove the limiting constructions we continually build around our relationship with the Almighty …

Might not we set Him free – and in the doing of … might not we set ourselves free as well?

And if He and we are free …


24 thoughts on “If He and we are free

  1. Brilliant post! You hit the nail on the head every time Paul! I think you would get along very well with the Christian author, Adrian Plass. Both of you call for “real Christianity” instead of the neatly packaged thing we try to parade so often.

    • Merryn, thank you!

      And thank you for the comparison – I have been cruising Amazon and finding out just how prolific an author he is. Not come across him before – yet he looks very readable! Some serious kindle downloads on the way at this end! I am touched, flattered and very humbled to be referred to in the same sentence as Mr Plass! Thank you again.

      • Adrian Plass was a very prolific writer especially in the 90s, though he still writes a lot thesedays. My dad doesn’t often finish a book but he has read just about everything Adrian Plass has written. He writes in a way that will have you laughing out loud on comedic lines, and makes you squirm in your seat on the more delicate issues. Glad I have made a recommendation you may like to read :). You may find the inspiration to publish some similar works 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing this with us Paul. I am down on the weather today feeling sinus issues. Therfore I had to read and re-read your post before I made a comment. I think most of the time I always have a thought about what you write. I fellow that writes with questions is doing some deep thinking. We are to work our salvation out with fear and trembling before God. In my child like faith towards God I try to keep in mind he is still a holy and mighty God. I don’t want to put myself in a plane where God is not my creator and I am his creation. Otherwise I don’t ever forget he is God Almighty. He is approachable with reverence to who he is and who I am. His creation. I don’t want to sound starch and proper. Putting the ritual on you know. For me I know he loves me and I love him It is I that will line up with God’s will, not mine. That being said God has given me my hearts desire and guards me and keeps me because he loves me and for no other reason. Open firm discussion of one’s personal belief about God can get gritty sometime. Not my intent. Thank you for graciously allowing me to comment here. Remember I am having sinus issues I probably didn’t make any sense.

    Love you Paul

    • Hi Tom – another sinus sufferer!! Wahoo!! And thank you so much for taking the time to add your thoughts. If we all thought the same and reacted the same and were the same – man that would be a dismal place to be!!
      And whatever your own way of looking at this stuff – all I know is that your relationship with your Lord is one I admire, respect and have great affection for.
      I love the way you want to avoid sound “starch and proper” – I love how you have been so tested and cling so tight to our Father. I love how you write, how you think and how you live and love.
      And as for gritty – that to me is just sharing some affectionate honesty – and that is rare – and that is precious!
      You make sense. And you write right!
      Love you – and your sinuses!!

  3. Wow, Paul. Just wow.

    This is my first day back to reading blogs after my prolonged absence and I must say, this post nearly knocked me out of my office chair. It goes without saying that I LOVE how you can take a few words from Scripture and breathe your insight into them.

    “Be silent, and come out of him”.

    I wonder how often Jesus says that to us when our thoughts drift away from Him and onto things of this world. I wonder how often He yearns for silence from all our primping, pumping up, and pomp-and-circumstance clamoring. We are cluttering up our world with our house of cards constructions and leaving little room for our Father to walk among us so He can do His will, perform His miracles, silence the sin in all of us.

    I heard something the other day that has become a light in the fog of the past few months: “Jesus said, ‘Follow Me’, NOT ‘Follow my followers'”. We seem to have this innate to desire to follow “them”, the ones who have answers in a “neat and tidy” presentation. The ones whose “day job” involves the “packaged and boxed” interpretations. After all, we love gifts. Especially gifts that make life easier, gifts that free us from the burden of responsibility. But I’ve realized “they” don’t have the “Be silent, and come out of him” power. The only power they have is the power we give them over us.

    Yes, I understand the need for scholars who are well versed in Scripture and pastors to lead the flock and encourage discipleship. BUT we should be following Jesus. Not a pastor. Or a religion. Or a ritual. We should be walking behind Him in the warmth of His footsteps, knowing we are on solid ground because He has gone before us.

    Jesus died so we could be free to follow Him.

    I wonder if our conveyor belt Christianity of following others right over the edge and into darkness makes Him want to shout, “Be silent, and come out of them”.

    Thank you so very much, Paul. Big love to you, my dirt brother.

    • Heather, when I read your words I realise how precious this connection is. For you reflect back those same verses but refracted with colour, intensity and affection.

      Be silent, and come out of him.

      Do you remember your piece on the tree? You have a knack of taking a thought to a whole new level. Same thing here. Now I am seeing noise and chatter in my head, my living and my routine – buzz buzz buzz how to fix this why is that not fair who did this give me a break I know the answer why won’t you listen to me buzz buzz buzz.

      Be silent … Or else how can you hear Me?

      Whole new level!! Whole new connection. Not just them. Not just Him. But me. My noise. Always starts “close to home”. And if I allow there is a trickle. And if we all allow there is a torrent.

      My head is spinning!! Wahoo and Thank You!

      and the “first day back” comment – you bring light you are light – walk softly dear sister

  4. Your post has been an affirmation for me this morning. I have been unable to blog as usual because of a painful pinched nerve that has affected my arm and hand. I have stayed away from commenting or blogging but I have been reading. I am keyboarding this morn because you have reiterated what my husband and I have been feeling and thinking about for many months concerning our church and our relationship to Christ. We have been very critical with good reason about our church and The Church collectively speaking. Because of such we have decided to hold Bible studies in our home on Sunday morning for our family and anyone who would like to join us. In doing so, it brings it back to me that the church began this way. We are honest and sincere in our desire to understand God, most especially in light of the tragedy our family has had to endure. I believe in doing away with the facade and ‘the box’ so-to-speak, we will find more than the paid pastor has to offer. Our understanding is that WE are the church and that every day should be about finding and knowing our Lord.

    Ritual, sermons that have been reused over time, the obvious impression makers, money, insincere leaders, insincere Christians, changes for the worse and not the better,…all of these have made us change how we feel about our own church but it also applies to many, I dare say. I just feel a disconnect to what I believe the church is and has been becoming all along. Maybe its my maturity that has affected my thinking. One can only hope so.

    Your words have prompted me in a way that says my husband and I ….my whole family, are right about what we have been thinking in the way of change. Thank you, my friend. Your gift of words have made my day. Love and peace….dale, brandon’s mom

    • Dale, your words touch me deeply. That you feel a need to withdraw is a great sadness on top of a great sadness. Yet the honest fellowship to be found within your family is church. More and more I find church is a state of mind rather than a place. Another name for fellowship. And that is not found in bricks and mortar. That is found in us when we look at Him.

      Seems to me you are simply bringing Him home. Because you always write about love. Always write with love. That is powerful.

      And that you added such a heartfelt comment with (I am guessing) an arm and hand and fingers resisting all the way – that is so powerful – so connecting. So beautiful. Thank you.

      … I tapped out many more words – all now deleted. He is the best most caring and affectionate editor I know! 🙂

  5. Paul, you’re illustrating a great point. Jesus had authority because the Kingdom wasn’t some distant place up in heaven somewhere that He was going to go back to when He died, it was living inside of Him. And that was the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees (Luke 17:20-21). It’s also supposed to be the difference between Christianity and religion. And because of Christ, He and we ARE free! 🙂

  6. Paul, you have described here the divine simplicity of Jesus. He was complex, but not complicated. His heart and hands held love, compassion, grace and mercy, and they were open to all who wished to receive. We still think we need to DO something to earn this, yet simply need to be still so he can bestow his gift upon us. We make it so difficult – complicated (sigh). I wonder how many times GSHJ shakes his head at us and waits – simply waits – for us to slow down and get it.

    • “He was complex, but not complicated.”

      I wonder more and more if we sift through the complex to find the essence – and then go “but there must be more to it that this.”

      I know I have for years!! 🙂

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