“When an unclean spirit leaves a person, it wanders through dry places looking for a place to rest. But it doesn’t find any. Then it says, ‘I’ll go back to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the place vacant, cleaned up, and decorated. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself. They go in and make their home there. That person is worse off at the end than at the beginning. This is the way it will be also for this evil generation” (Matthew 12:43-45, Common English Bible).
That there is evil in the world should be beyond question. Watching the evening news on any given night gives a pretty clear indication of the reality of evil in the world. Terrorists often seem to have the upper hand. ISIS chopping off people’s heads because they affirm belief in a different understanding of God than the Islamic State. We have governments who think nothing of turning illegal (by international law) chemical weapons on their own people. Not to mention those who are willing to go to war rather than to sit down and talk about each nations interests and differences like rational thinking human beings.
Beyond the world scale, even here in our own country, in our own neighborhoods, we have pedophiles molesting children, drug dealers pushing their wares, people who think nothing of taking someone else’s property or even someone else’s life. We also have people who don’t necessarily seem evil but they are so self-consumed, their own interests always take precedent over the interests and needs of others. The symptoms could go on and on. But, I think you get the point.
When I read the lesson for today the thought occurred to me, we are the house Matthew talks about. Because of original sin, we are filled with sin. We may think we are a “good person,” but within every good person there is the possibility and perhaps even the presence of evil.
As we develop our relationship with God, that evil can be pushed from our lives. But, if that is as far as we carry it, I think Matthew is saying there is a void that is left behind. We are empty. And, what is empty will be filled. We have a choice to make. Will we allow the void to be filled with the things of God? Or, will we open ourselves to evil, perhaps, some may even say probably, more pervasive evil than we faced before.
As I did a little study on this particular text, several commentators, not all but some, talked about the ties between the prevalent thought of evil spirits in the Biblical era against the more modern ideas of mental illness. And, when a person relapses with mental illness it can often be much worse than the original situation.
There should be no doubt, these ideas do have some support in the text. Still, at least for me, that makes this text applicable to a select few, the mentally ill, while evil can rest within any of us and is part of the reality of the world for all God’s children.
We all can feel empty. What will you us to fill you once again? It’s time to “fill ‘er up.”
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved