“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you”(Mark 5:19).
An amazing thing has happened to this man. He has been so demon-infested that he lived away from people in the tombs, breaking the chains used to restrain him, and cutting himself on stones. Yet Jesus has come, ordered the demons out of him (and into a herd of pigs), and left the man sitting clothed and in his right mind. The man wants to come with Jesus, but Jesus refuses. “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you”(Mark 5:19). There is a story to tell and the people who need to hear it most are the people who know him well.
Many of the people who surround Jesus have a story to tell. He casts seven demons out of Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2). He tells the woman at the well “all that I ever did”(John 4:29) and changes her life in one interaction. Nathanael is convinced when a chance encounter with Jesus reveals that Jesus knows both his character (“no deceit”) and what he has been doing (“under the fig tree”, John 1:47-50). Some leave their jobs to follow Jesus. Some weep over him when he declares their sins forgiven. Their lives are forever changed. Every disciple of Jesus has a story to tell.
Certainly all disciples have some elements in our stories that are the same. We all put our faith in Jesus and are baptized into Christ (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 2:36-41, Gal 3:26-27). But we all come to faith differently. Each of us has his or her own story. And Jesus’ words to the freed demoniac—“tell them how much the Lord has done for you”—shows the power of that story in bringing others to pay attention to God and the work he is doing.
So what’s your story? In what unique ways has the gospel affected you? What has led you to follow Jesus? What events in your life—what parts of your story—show just “how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you”? To be sure, these stories must be supplemented by clear teaching from Scripture about Jesus and God’s purposes. But speaking plainly about what led us to him helps make the Scripture come to life for others.
My story is the story of a young man who grew up in a Christian home and longed to please those around him. I wanted approval and respect—and saw Jesus’ teachings as a way to gain them. Meanwhile the parts of my life that were sinful—my pride, my lust, my greed—had to be hidden lest I lose accolades. Jesus put up with this pattern for a long time—my two selves—until he saw fit to break me. This came through special people who had the guts to call me on my sins and hold my feet to the fire. Through their intervention, he has forgiven me of my wickedness and dishonesty—though deeply ingrained—and has led me toward healing and transformation. Not one area of my life—from my thoughts to my preaching to my marriage to my anger and lust—has been unaffected. I have been redeemed. I see with clarity and know the joy and peace of his forgiveness. Now I love to tell other people about him. He has reached me—and he can do the same for you! There is good news for all of us!
What’s your story?