Amazing Grace, Amazed People

(Mark 5:19-20 NIV) “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 in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”

I love Jesus. I spend most of my waking hours meditating on Him and His Word. I want to be just like Him. The more I think about Jesus, the more, sometimes, I realize I am a long way from reaching that goal. I am grateful that He who began a good work in me, is going to be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). Nevertheless, I also realize that my piety towards Him is woefully incomplete if I am not engaged in His mission.

In the above story a man possessed by a multiplicity of demons named Legion, after being cleansed by Jesus, begged Jesus to allow him to stay with Him. But Jesus did not let him. In yet another example of our call to go to the world and proclaim that Jesus is The Christ, Jesus told the ex-demoniac to GO to your community and proclaim the Good News. And the response to that proclamation: the people were amazed. No evangelism training; no Bible studies, no prayer summits. He who is forgiven much, will love much (Luke 7:47). The testimony of a changed life speaks loudly to a world that is, literally, dying for change.

Piety can be defined simply as devotion. Many are devoted to their families, as an example. But filial piety can often be co-dependent, and the child may be so devoted to the parents or grandparents that they live their lives vicariously through them. They have not grown up into their own to fulfill the destiny that the parents should have wanted for them.

Jesus warns us against such wrong devotion (false piety): “‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother’” (Mark 3:33-35 NIV). Again Jesus points to piety as, not just transcendent devotion to our Father in Heaven, but active obedience in accomplishing His mission. We can sit at His feet and enjoy Him, yes, but we must also move our feet to complete the work He has called us to do.

When Mary Magdalene finally recognized the resurrected Jesus at the Garden Tomb, she grabbed on to his leg. Jesus replied, “Do not cling to me … but GO to the brothers…” (John 20:17). And when Jesus showed up to see the brothers, was there an extended hang-out party with Jesus? Was there a long prayer session? No! Jesus breathed on them His Spirit, so that He would possess them and empower their mission. And Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21 NIV).

One of the greatest acts of active piety that I have ever witnessed (not first hand, mind you) was the actions of the Amish community in Nickel Mines, PA in 2006. The Amish are not well known for the piety of going into the world evangelistically, but they are very much known for the piety of living in peaceful, devoted community separated from the “world.” On October 2, 2006 several of the Amish children in Nickel Mines were brutally murdered by a very disturbed man. Immediately the Amish community forgave the offender, immediately they sought out the wife of the murderer and offered their forgiveness and assistance, and immediately they proclaimed the Christ who had delivered them from the demons of bitterness, unforgiveness, revenge, and anger.

And all the people were amazed.

Go and do likewise.