“And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art; the Holy One of God.’ And Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Hold thy peace, and come out of him.’ And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not” (Luke -35 – King James Version).
Two little stories…
When I was a kid I didn’t go into town very often. When I did, it was mostly to go to the grocery store. One of my favorite things about going to the grocery store was looking at the damaged goods. The store we shopped at always had one or two shopping carts sitting in the main aisle filled with dented cans, torn boxes, and other damaged containers. I loved to sift through those carts searching for a treasure. We didn’t buy much junk food, so a trip to the damaged goods cart often yielded some treasure that mom would buy for me just because it was priced to sell.
Second little story…I used to do prison ministry. I was privileged to minister to many hurting people in jails. I also was privileged to introduce a few to my Savior. While in town one day I ran into a fellow that I’d led to Christ while the man was in jail. I asked him how things were going. He’d found a job and was doing well with one notable exception; he was not going to church. When I asked why that was he said, “Nobody wants a convict in their church.” “How do you know?” I asked, “Have you tried to find a church?” “Oh, yeah,” he said with a touch of sadness, “I have tried a couple. Everything is fine until I share that I have been locked up. People change when they find that out.”
When I read today’s passage I think of those two little stories. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and it left the man. It is notable to mention that the spirit left the man “and hurt him not.” Jesus sent the unclean spirit away, but Christ did not send the man away. That will preach!
We tend to forget that when a person is freed from an unclean spirit or from the bondage of sin the person is still there though the sin is gone. The old man has passed away and behold, there is a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Often we cast off the new person because of the reputation of the old man. We must remember to keep the person, minister to them, accept them, love them, and disciple them and at the same time rejoice with them that the old man has been cast off.
We forget that sin occurs with sinners and sinners are people. We want to be rid of the sin, but we get the two mixed up sometimes and cast the sinner off with the sin.
At the end of the day we are all damaged goods. None of us is perfect (Romans 3:23). It’s as if Jesus rummaged through the damaged goods cart of the world and picked out some choice treasures and bought them. The difference is that Christ did not pay a reduced price for we who are those damaged goods…He paid dearly and fully with His precious blood. He took damaged things but paid the full price. That, my friends, is a beautiful thought and reality!
I recently heard someone say that it is not our common good or our common social status that draws us together, but our common need for Christ to minister to our weaknesses. It’s not that we have like hobbies or equal bank accounts; rather we have the sin sickness in common and the Savior is the solution for us all.
Personally, I love damaged goods. I have found that once the package is peeled away or torn off, it is the stuff inside that counts. The amazing thing is that Christ takes goods that are damaged inside and out and MAKES them whole and worth using.
How do you view the sinner? Should they be cast off with the sin? Should damaged goods be allowed into your fellowship? Do you hunt for damaged goods that you can carry to the Master? Do you welcome damaged goods and treat them as equals in Christ? If you don’t you obviously have forgotten exactly how bent, broken and torn you were when the Savior redeemed and restored you.
There is an old saying that goes something like this: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” That comes from the fact that families in medieval times all used the same bath water for their bi-annual bath. They used it by order of age, from the oldest to the youngest. Often, by the time it would be the baby’s turn the water would be so dirty that one might not be able to see the baby in it, thus creating the certain danger that the baby might be tossed out with the dirty water. We, as the church…the manifest presence of Christ in this world…need to throw out nasty bath water (sin), but we need to be careful not to toss baby Christians out with it.
However we state it, there is the simple fact that sinners are kept and sin is thrown away. Don’t forget that! If God doesn’t love damaged goods, then He doesn’t love anyone because that is exactly what all of us are. Let us be like Him in this regard. If we don’t excitedly search through and use the damaged goods of this world, not only will we miss out on a great many treasures but we basically throw away the merchandise. Remember these things when you minister to people.