When I first read that quote, it gave me pause. I read (hear) a portion of the Bible most every morning. It is a part of how I start my day. In Church we hear the reading of the Holy Scriptures and it seems very important to hear each Sunday. This quote began to make more sense one day as I “unpacked” the story of the demons being sent into the herd of pigs in Matthew 8 (more of the details can be found in Mark 5 & Luke 8).
As you may recall, Jesus sends a “legion” of demons into a herd of almost 2000 pigs. When the demons enter the pigs, the whole herd rushes into the sea and perishes in the water. The pig herders heard and saw the entire event. They fled to the city and told all the people “everything” that had happened. If you are reading this story for the first time, you would expect all the people to fall down before Jesus and ask Him to stay. But the opposite happens: “They begged Him to leave!” (Mt. 8:34)
What exactly did those pig herders tell all the people? They told them “everything,” just like we would hear it from the Holy Gospel today. Amazingly, these pig herders were the very first to proclaim this portion of the Word of God to the people. They proclaimed it long before the Gospels were ever written down. The people of the city heard the Word of God, but merely hearing it did not lead them toward salvation. Hearing it, they asked Jesus to leave.
What does this have to do with us? Surely, we would never ask Jesus to leave us! We may not actually tell Jesus to leave us, BUT sometimes our actions speak louder than our words and not in a good way.
We “hear” that we should not gossip, but sometimes what we think we know about someone else is just so very juicy, we must share it. We have just asked Jesus to leave us for a moment while we do what is wrong.
We “hear” that we should not lie to other people, but sometimes a “little” lie will help us look better, put someone else in their place, or save us from embarrassment. We have just asked Jesus to leave us for a moment while we do what is wrong.
We “hear” that we should not let our anger control us…that we should not take the Lord’s name in vain…that we should not have lust for another person…that we should not judge…that we should forgive everyone…this list goes on and on ending with: We have just asked Jesus to leave us for a moment while we do what is wrong.
If this rings true for you (as it does for me), realize that we are not alone. Saint Paul struggled with the same thing. In Romans 7, he writes about how the good he knows he should do, he fails to do, and the bad he knows he should not do, he does. His (and our) victory is found in Jesus Christ our Lord!
What is our heart’s desire? Even though we may fall short at times, as did Saint Paul, we still want to have Jesus present in our lives; we want to obey Him and walk in His ways. When we fall short and our actions have “asked Jesus to leave,” may we remember our hearts desire and ask His forgiveness. In other words, let us get back up and continue to walk in His ways.
I am very much with you in this journey. May our Lord give us strength and wisdom that “after hearing the Word of God, we do it,” especially when tempted to ask Jesus to leave for a minute or two.