I want to remind us what we have said yes to. You didn’t say yes to a company, or a job or radio station. You said yes to a person…Jesus, and broadcasting his love to a world that needs it so badly. When we say yes to Jesus, He always takes us somewhere.
I tell my staff at NGEN radio the best Christian Radio has yet to be done. Having the mind of Christ is our secret weapon, and when we have a heart for the least of these, and the furthest out, I believe we are in close proximity to the heart and mind of Jesus. We have been challenged to reach the lost and go to where most people would not be inclined to go. Let me suggest that the Christian life is not simply about survival or getting through the next storm. It’s about getting to a destination. This is where following Jesus becomes fun. We are being called by Jesus to a destination, not just to survive. We are in hot pursuit to find where God is at work and be active participants in helping establish his kingdom. What an opportunity!
In Mark chapter 4, Jesus tells his disciples to go with him to the “other side.” With a full day of ministry behind him, complete with telling a bunch of parables about farmers and seeds, Jesus and his disciples get in a boat and go to the opposite side of the sea of Galilee, on the southeast corner, to be exact. The implications are very important. Sometimes we gloss over details in scripture that seem unimportant, like genealogy or geography. But in this text it is very important to pay attention to the geography. The “other side” was local slang for Decapolis. It would be like us saying “the hood.” Decapolis was a Hellenized city, under Roman rule, complete with every type of pagan, decadent indulgence and idolatry you could imagine. In short, it was a place that God fearing, Torah observing Jews had “no business” going to. In fact they believed that Decapolis was under the very stronghold of Satan himself. So when Jesus asked them to go to the other side, I can imagine them being a little reluctant. Can’t you? Ummmm…Jesus, that’s where all the pagans are. We don’t belong there. To be more succinct, they would have become “defiled” if they came in to contact with a number of things that would have been deemed ceremonially unclean. God forbid.
I can sympathize with the disciples. I used to own a shoe company and every year in Las Vegas there was a massive trade show called Magic, where apparel companies would showcase their latest lines. I dreaded going to Vegas because I thought to myself, “I have no business being here with all of this filth and gambling (to name only a few of the offerings in Vegas).” I wanted to avoid temptation at all costs. I came from a church background that emphasized devotion and holiness to God, and that my performance was one of the main factors in God being pleased with me and using me. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that his love for me wasn’t determined by my performance, but by His person. But that’s for another bible study. Back to the other side.
I love that Jesus had business to tend to on the “other side.” Sometimes I’m afraid we still hold to some of the traditions the disciples held that run counter intuitive to the person of Christ, and his ultimate mission on earth, and in so doing, we avoid places where God is at work. Sinners were very comfortable approaching Jesus and sitting with him. They loved to listen to him talk. Luke 15:1,2. It was the religious elites that had the hardest time embracing the words of Jesus. I love how C.S. Lewis puts it He says that its easier for a prostitute to come to Jesus than it is for a proud person. Jesus took his disciples to a place where nobody wanted to go, to meet a person nobody wanted to meet, where the people ended up wanting them to leave, eventually. They went to region of the Garasenes on the “other side.” It was a bad place. It wasn’t a vacation destination. There they a encountered a man possessed by the evil spirits. He was without a home and had no family. His address was a cemetery…literally he lived among the tombs. He was all by himself. Nobody was was strong enough to subdue him. Society failed him and he was relegated to living on the fringes. In essence, they shoo’d him away like a dog. To make matters worse, he cut himself with stones.
We hear stories like this at NGEN. People call in depressed and ready to throw in the towel. People are looking for answers. I imagine you’ve heard your fans share as well. They may know where they live but it’s not the home that God intended, and theres deep pain. My question for us is, do we have a heart for these people and are we willing to the other side to reach them? Someone put it this way: Do we stand in awe of the heavy load that people have to carry, or do we stand in judgment as to how they how carry it? Jesus didn’t see this demoniac as a problem to be solved but as a person with an identity. When the man sees Jesus from a distance, he runs to him. Even with all his issues he runs to him. Let that sink in for a second. A man that is possessed runs to Jesus. Jesus can reach anyone, anywhere, at anytime. He yells out, “don’t torture me!” Some people, especially millennials in our demographic think that Jesus is there to torture them, so to speak. Not literally, but many people think that Jesus is there to rain on their parade, and give them a list of do’s and don’ts. We get to say no, that’s not God’s heart! That’s not what Jesus is all about. We get to tell them that God wants them to live life to the fullest, and that he’s not mad at them. We get to convey a Jesus that is so attractive, that even in the midst of their issues, they can run to him, and he will meet them where they are. We get to tell them about a person that loves them unconditionally and that is more concerned with where he stands, than standing on the right side of an issue. Jesus always stood with the people.
The story ends with Jesus casting the legion into a herd of pigs, and all the pigs drowned to death. A head scratcher for sure, being that pigs are buoyant, and therefore shouldn’t have drowned. Again, that’s for another bible study. But the point is that this man had been set free. He was in a calm, peaceful state, not unlike how Jesus calmed the sea in the previous chapter, when they were on their way to the other side. In both cases Jesus displays his purpose for coming to the earth…to overthrow the kingdom of darkness. He came to rescue and restore lost humanity and establish the never ending Kingdom. We get to broadcast this to a world that is hungry to find meaning and purpose. That is no small thing. Just bask in that for a moment. Let’s not be afraid to go to the other side. There we will find people in need of an encounter with the only one that can rescue them and give them the meaning and purpose they long for.
Station Manager, NGEN radio