Do you have a weird neighbor?
Our city had a resident who was mid 20-30s, particularly short, always out speed-walking with his Walkman radio in one hand, headphones on, and snapping his fingers. But he wasn’t in work-out clothes…he was always showered, and groomed, like he was walking to work in casual clothing. But there was something “off” about him. Maybe because all of the high school students started mentioning him and about crossing paths on their way to school. Yet, we all lived in different parts of the city. This guy was everywhere. Did he just walk the city all day? We saw him on the walk to school, if you went home for lunch, if you left school early or late, you’d see him. He was a phenomenon. One student claimed, they stopped him once, and asked to listen to his headphones and they didn’t hear any music playing. So, he was deemed the token WEIRD guy of our city. Everyone was aware of him.
Luckily, he was no harm to anyone, he was just an odd character, someone to pop up in our memories years later. In today’s world, if someone exhibits dangerous behavior to themselves or others, we commit them to a psychiatric hospital for treatment. But what did they do several centuries ago?
In one particular case, someone who would frequently fall on the ground and foam at the mouth, the town had no idea what to do with them, so they guarded the individual, chained and shackled. However, during one of his violent fits, he was able to break free, and then as a crazed person does…he ripped off all his clothes, and left town to live among the tombs, naked.
Eventually, Jesus crossed his path, and drove the evil spirits dwelling within him into some pigs, that quickly ran into water and drowned. The man was clothed, fed, lucid and praising God. What did the town folk do? They asked Jesus to leave, because he made them nervous with all the quick changes. They preferred status quo. They got used to their token crazy neighbor (living out-of-sight-out-of-mind) and, dang it, now they were short some pigs. Guess the Luau and feast were off now.
35 People went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had been sent, sitting there at Jesus’ feet, wearing decent clothes and making sense. It was a holy moment, and for a short time they were more reverent than curious. 36 Then those who had seen it happen told how the demoniac had been saved. 37 Later, a great many people from the Gerasene countryside got together and asked Jesus to leave – too much change, too fast, and they were scared. So Jesus got back in the boat and set off.
Luke 8:35-37 (MSG)