Pure Peace, Pure Joy

File Oct 09, 8 12 33 AM

2 Kings 21:1-181 Cor. 10:14-11:1Matt. 8:28-34

Yesterday was our 1st Blessing of Animals!  And by so many measures it was a great success.  Connections were made with our Duncan community, and new relationships began to be formed.  Did you see the amazing coverage we got last night on Channel 7?  If you missed, it, full coverage is at www.kswo.com/story/36549287/families-get-their-pets-blessed-by-local-pastor

Please share that story on social media, even if you aren’t a social media fan.  It truly helps the church.  It’s your minute for evangelism for the day!

Well anyway, in the rush to get back home to watch some of the Packer game, I must have forgotten to wash my hands.  I got home and my little Pomeranian dog, Bentley, gave me a serious sniffing-over.  He would not stop, following me around, snorting and upset by the violations of my attention to other dogs!  He was determined to figure out all I had been up to.  When I opened up Matthew’s Gospel today and saw it was dealing with purification I thought of my doggy hands yesterday.  Pass the Purel!

Jesus heals the Gadarene demoniacs.  You know how this purification story goes, right?  It’s wacky.  The two possessed souls of Matthew’s gospel end up pure, and the demon begs to be sent into the herd of swine.  Jesus obliges.  The pigs then drown themselves.  How bizarre.

But Matthew is not so much concerned with purity, as he seems to be announcing a battle for power.  Jesus is named by the demons, an act of power, and one that is often viewed as the demons trying to gain the upper hand on their exorcist, because knowing the name of a person is to have power over them.

So perhaps the demons did not drown themselves, but Jesus maintained the power and forced the pigs to drown.

Either way, it is strange.  And the people in the town know this and want nothing to do with this man Jesus.  They want him to leave.

How true this often is in our world.  As a sinful people, we secretly like things the way they are and we don’t want change.  We secretly don’t want purity.  We don’t want unity.  We don’t want to be healed or truly experience the power of God.  Instead, we want to be in control! 

Ultimately, we don’t want change.  Change is stress.

There are ordination vows in the Presbyterian Church that all elders and ministers take.  One deals with Peace, Unity, and Purity.  It is seemingly an easy vow to take, but one that is hard to live up to.  And there are many in our church today who have become obsessed with breaking it – mainly the peace and unity part, instead liking to fight.

What does peace look like in our day?  Beyond the wars, beyond guns and racial tensions, I am talking about an inner peace.  To be called into a holy life with God means more than just praying or reading scripture, but to let go of the world and of control.  Submission and humility wrap themselves in this quest for purity, unity, and peace.

I think of those dogs who go to obedience school, and learn submission in the best way possible.  How can we give our lives over to the Master, knowing he will take care of all our needs?  I think of my little dog Bentley, who only truly calms down, who only knows true peace, when he has figured out who is Top Dog.  At the top is a picture of Bentley when he is not at peace!

What does unity look like?  How are we to live together in harmony with a variety of theological perspectives?  Paul and Peter struggled with unity.  But in the end they saw their unity in Christ and how to live as the body of Christ.  Instead of fragmenting and dissenting, we are called to live a life of togetherness.

And what does purity look like?  Certainly it is not as trite as “pass the Purel.”  And certainly it is not keeping Kosher.  This story blows that argument to pieces.  Instead, we are called to live a holy life, with Christ in control, guiding our thoughts and actions in love, and joy, and peace.

Only when we connect into Christ do we find that pure peace that transforms lives and brings pure joy.




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