Communal Exorcism

I have been accused of many things.

– Ice cream connoisseur: Guilty!
– Hopeless Detroit Lions fan: Guilty!
– Klutzy: Guilty!
– Quirky sense of humor: Guilty!
– Germaphobe (even before Covid): Guilty!
– Technologically challenged: Guilty!
– Mechanically challenged: Guilty!
– Fashion challenged: Guilty!
(My hardest decision of the day is trying to match my clothes. Thank God for my wife!)

There is one thing, however, I have never been accused of, and it might surprise you considering my ecclesiastical and theological heritage.

Being a demon-chaser.

In fact, quite the opposite. In the words of C.S. Lewis from his book, The Screwtape Letters, I could easily be labeled a “materialist” (someone who, unlike a “magician,” dismisses—or at least, ignores—the dark realm of the supernatural).

Not anymore.

There is so much turbulence in our country. Anger, fear, distrust, and confusion abound.

Spins. Alternative facts. Misunderstanding. Misrepresentation. Manipulation. Judgment. Posturing. Politicizing.

So many opinions. Conflicting opinions.

This is more than Republican/Democratic/Independent, conservative or liberal, Midwest or West Coast, black or white.

There are multiple layers to the issues at hand whether social, political, economic, medical, etc. They are complex. Many demand immediate attention and require drastic measures. But the ugliness and meanness we observe between people are not explicable from a purely natural standpoint. There is more going on than meets the eye. There are powers and principalities at work seeking to defile and destroy.

Friends. Families. Communities. Churches. Businesses. Educational institutions.

These powers are working through news agencies, the movie industry, social media, organizations, government.

And quite possibly you and me.

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but there is a cosmic level to the present crisis. It was Paul who made it clear that our battle is “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

This calls for discernment. Wisdom. Humility. Faith. Courage.

And this calls for Christ-followers to be the church. Theologian Timothy Luke Johnson insightfully describes what he calls “communal exorcism.” He writes that the church, by embodying in its life together an alternative ethic—one of welcome, inclusion, creative goodness, generosity, repentance, justice, forbearance, forgiveness, and non-violence—extends the “liberating ministry of Jesus through a kind of communal exorcism.” This social reality has the effect of disabling devilish systems and holding demonic powers in check.

As the people of God become a sign of God’s kingdom, bearing witness to the reconciling, cruciform love of Christ in the world, an “ordinary exorcism” (as one professor dubs) occurs. People become liberated from the oppressive, tyrannical powers of the Enemy.

Instead of speaking, Jesus-people listen. Instead of dismissing, they pause to consider. Instead of walking away, they enter in. Instead of cursing, they bless. Instead of inflicting pain, they absorb it.

Only in this way can we cast out whatever devils might be in the mix.

* * * * * * *

A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Martin Luther

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,—
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! His doom is sure,—
One little word shall fell him.

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2 Comments

  1. Duwanna Jackson

    I agree ! A Mighty Fortress is Our GOD!! Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world !! Always praying for Life Challenge..

  2. Love it! You stated it so well. Thank you, Jeff and God bless you and your work.

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