The story is shared in three of the four gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). On the heels of teaching large crowds about the coming kingdom of God followed by a demonstration of divine power over a stormy sea, Jesus steps ashore and (as Mark is quick to point out) is immediately confronted by a very troubled man. Mark says he had an unclean spirit—Luke says he had a demon. The result was that the man’s life was a wreck. Unable to be restrained, he continually caused harm both to himself and to those around him. The picture was one of desperation. There was no apparent solution for his troubles, that is until Jesus showed up. In a revelation of his divine power over the forces of evil, Jesus frees the man with a command. Unable to resist his authority, the demon departed the man, leading to one of the great word pictures of the New Testament. As Luke 8:35 records, the man who before had been out of control, lashing out at others, and even harming himself, is found “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.”
There are several takeaways from this event in the life of Jesus (his authority over Satan and his demons, and his ministry to the outcasts, among others), but one clear truth conveyed in this scene is that Jesus can bring hope into a hopeless situation. He can change a life when it seems utterly impossible to do so.
By God’s grace, I haven’t lived the kind of chaos and self-destruction this man experienced, but there have certainly been times when I felt out of control. Sadly, there are times my words and actions wounded others and even myself. Oh, I’d try to knuckle down, recommit, start something new, take things seriously, and all the rest. I turned over more new leaves than I can count. Some of these efforts to manage my own mess even delivered some short-term results, but inevitably, I’d fall right back into the same struggle, feeling an ever-growing sense of isolation, discouragement, and frustration. Ever been there?
This is one of the reasons I’m so excited about re:generation here at Fellowship. Re:generation (sometimes we shorten it to re:gen) is a gospel-centered, biblically-based program of recovery and discipleship. God has used this ministry in churches all over the country to bring life-changing help, hope, and healing to men and women who have fought losing battles with struggles like anger, pride, co-dependency, porn, food addiction, unforgiveness, shame, control, to name just a few. The materials are excellent, the program is extremely well-organized and the people involved are sincere and dedicated. All of that is great, but the best part of re:gen has nothing to do with materials, a program, or the people. The best part of re:gen is that it brings the participant in the midst of all their mess to Jesus. From there, just like in the story of the so-called “Gerasene Demoniac,” when Jesus shows up, the possibility of hope, life-change, and freedom comes with him.
If you or someone you know is struggling or if you just feel stuck, we’d love for you to check out re:gen. New groups are forming now and will begin October 6th. You can find out more about re:gen and get signed up by clicking on this button.