26 Then they sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When he got out on land, a demon-possessed man from the town met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes and did not stay in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before him, and said in a loud voice, “What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torment me! ” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was guarded, bound by chains and shackles, he would snap the restraints and be driven by the demon into deserted places. 30 “What is your name?” Jesus asked him. “Legion,” he said, because many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to banish them to the abyss. 32 A large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. The demons begged him to permit them to enter the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 The demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. 34 When the men who tended them saw what had happened, they ran off and reported it in the town and in the countryside. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man the demons had departed from, sitting at Jesus’s feet, dressed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 Meanwhile, the eyewitnesses reported to them how the demon-possessed man was delivered. 37 Then all the people of the Gerasene region asked him to leave them, because they were gripped by great fear. So getting into the boat, he returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had departed begged him earnestly to be with him. But he sent him away and said, 39 “Go back to your home, and tell all that God has done for you.” And off he went, proclaiming throughout the town how much Jesus had done for him.
I once attended an out-of-town conference for pastors and church leaders. I listened intently as the speaker read the text, prayed, and began his message with a statement I had never before heard in all my Southern Baptist life. He boldly proclaimed, “Sometimes God calls you to stay right where you are. There are times God says ‘stay.’”
I couldn’t believe my ears! I thought I was sitting under heretical teaching and assumed I’d just wasted my money. “God NEVER says stay!” I thought. I had always been told that disciples of Jesus are told to “GO!” not “STAY!” To say I was a bit uncomfortable in my auditorium seat is an understatement. After his opening, I didn’t know whether to get up and leave, stay and poke theological holes in his message, or see where this guy was going with such an audacious claim.
I don’t remember why, but I did stay (no pun intended). And I’m glad I did. The preacher was correct: Jesus told this transformed, formerly demon-possessed man to stay, though he wanted to go with Jesus. Who could blame him? One, I would want to be with the man who had just ordered a legion of demons to leave me. And two, I would not want to go back to a place full of people who wanted nothing to do with the man who just healed me. He begged Jesus to go with him, but Jesus told him to—you guessed it—stay.
Why? Why not be able to go with Jesus and be sent out to preach the gospel with the other disciples? Why stay home? Think about it: who better than him to testify to the life-changing power of Jesus? Who better than him—the man everyone in town knew of—to be a walking, talking sermon of the good news of Jesus Christ? Who else would be able to see the change wrought in this man than his own hometown? Jesus told him to stay because his staying was the best gospel witness for that region. We are always called to “go and make disciples.” But that may mean to do so while staying around the people who know us best. Honestly, it may even be harder to “stay” than to go. Either way, we are called to demonstrate the revolutionary power of our savior Jesus to the world around us.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Sometimes God says “go.” Sometimes God says “stay.” Either way, we are called to testify to His life-changing power. How is Jesus changing you, right now?
- How might the people closest to you see that you have/are being transformed by Jesus?
- It’s possible to use the excuse of “going” to keep us from “staying” because staying can sometimes be more difficult. Who are the people God is calling you to?
- What area(s) is the Holy Spirit challenging you with to trust Him?