This past Sunday, we heard the good news that Jesus is freeing us from believing that the Divine is a monster god. In disabusing us from this notion, Jesus is also freeing us from the lie that shame and violence do good work in our lives.
Belief in a monster god causes us to inflict monstrous acts against ourselves and others. Shame keeps us from loving ourselves and violence keeps us from loving each other.
In our Gospel passage, while Jesus is teaching, a person with an evil spirit speaks up and asks, “What do you want with us? Have you come to destroy us?” Jesus responds by commanding the spirit to be silent and come out of the person.
Jesus is doing that same work of exorcism today — commanding out of us any spirit that would cause us to question whether God’s intention is to destroy us. Demonic paradigms are cast out by kingdom teaching.
Jesus shows us what the Divine is like in the flesh. God is just like Jesus. You are beloved by your Creator.
Freed from the belief in a monster god, we are also free from using tactics of shame and violence to make our way in the world. We are free to love ourselves.
The idea of self-love sometimes provokes concern in the church. There seems to be a fear that self-love will lead to either self-centeredness or self-destructive tendencies, maybe both. However, the self-love we heard good news about this past Sunday is paired with the love of others. As we saw in our 1 Corinthians passage, freedom is unto something. We are meant for communion. We need one another.
You are beloved. Both by the Divine and by this community.
May you walk in the awareness of your belovedness so that in treating yourself with tenderness you will be better able to walk beside your neighbors in this life.
May the peace of Christ be with you,