Friday, October 12, 2012

Love vs. The Strong Man

Today's gospel reading has one section that just grabbed me and made me smile this morning. Listen to this:

When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

That's Luke 11:21-23.

Now, passages about the demonic can sometimes leave preachers a little uncertain what to say. But here's how I heard it in my heart this morning. I'm no exegete, but my personal experience and what I have observed in others bears this out.

The "strong man" guarding his palace is not the righteous man making sure his holiness is secure. The "strong man" is the sinner who keeps his own heart in bondage due to his unrepented sin. The one who is stronger who attacks and overcomes is love. Somehow, the "strong man" allows love to seep into his life, and then the fight is on. Love is stronger than sin. Love is stronger than death. Love, however, yields to the human will. Love must be chosen; love must be acquiesced to. It is the strongest tug on the human will, since love is what the human being was created for in the first place. Love is able to "take away the armor," or the pride, on which the sinner relied, and free the heart from its bondage to sin, allowing the heart to go and do and experience that for which it was made. That is where the heart must choose. Am I with Jesus? Am I with love? Will I choose Love? Or will I scatter away from Him, opposing Jesus, choosing instead my possessions, my bondage, my strength, my "keeping myself safe"?

The only way we keep our lives free from evil is to allow ourselves to be filled with love, so that the evil spirit finds no place to return to (Lk. 11:24-26). We are not safe without saying Yes to love.

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