When We're Complicit in Demonic Possession

Unchained by Peter Miller.jpg

Scripture Reading: Luke 8:26-39 (NRSV)

What happens when we look at this story from a Family Systems Theory perspective?

Within this view, groups and relationships achieve homeostasis or balance.  Sometimes this is healthy balance and sometimes it isn't.  Sometimes our balance unduly rests upon the backs of others, creating injustice.  Slavery in the southern United States is an example of unhealthy balance.  Their economy was dependent upon the sinful practice of keeping other human beings in chains.
When this practice is called into question, there is resistance from those who benefit the most from the status quo.  Slavery was argued from moral, philosophical and religious standpoints as a reasonable way to live in relationship with people.  While we would find such arguments sad today, they were accepted by many of that day because the system was balanced.

Within today's scripture, at first glance, I find it odd that the townspeople react so negatively to Jesus curing the demoniac.  It is almost like they prefer him to be possessed and live outside of their town.  They had tried to keep him bound and living among them but that didn't work.  He would break out and go to live among the tombs.  Sometimes our possessions cause us to seek death rather than life.

The demons may have formed a kind of triangle between the man and the rest of the town.  When systems seek homeostasis or balance, we often will find the balance in triangles of relationships.  Whenever there is too much tension between two people, a third will often be brought in to relieve the stress.  Ever seen two parents arguing and then in walks an unsuspecting child?  Sometimes the wrath or ire is then diverted to the child who finds him or herself confused by why there are suddenly more chores to do!

Sometimes a parent and a child may have difficulty relating and so the parent enlists the other child to talk to the sibling.  Find out what's wrong!

Triangles can be unhealthy or they may also be healthy.

The triangle of the demoniac, the demons and the townsfolk is interrupted by Jesus.  He breaks the triangle by exorcising the demons and now the man is in his right mind.  The people are afraid.  When the man wants to leave and go with Jesus, Jesus has him stay and to relate to the people.

We have to stay in connection with others.  It may be easier to cut-off ourselves from others but for healing to happen relationally, we may need to stay connected.

When we find that we are free from what possessed us, we must be careful not to fall into old habits that put us right back in the same fix.  And so, while it may sound like the healthy option for him to leave with Jesus, it may also be that to really find healing, we must confront those behaviors that led us down the dark path in the first place.  We can't change how others treat us.  But we can change how we react to that treatment.  When they find us free, they may find this scary at first.  The system is not what they expect!  But as we live into our freedom, they may find the courage to change how they treat us as well.  As they begin to act differently, our transformation may be contagious.

I'll be exploring this passage on Sunday.  I hope you'll join us either in person or online in one of our many formats!

In Christ,


Photo by Peter Miller via Flickr.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.