One of my favorite stories about the ministry of Jesus is found in Mark 5. It is the story of a man who was a complete mess. I’ll let you read it for yourself to get all of the details, but the bottom line was this. Things were so bad for him that he was actually living in a cemetery among the graves. He was so mentally imbalanced that he was running around naked, attacking anyone who came too close to him. But Mark records, in verse 15, that after his encounter with Jesus the people were amazed because this crazy man was sitting listening to Jesus teach, clothed and in his right mind.
I like this story for a number of reasons. I like the fact that Jesus made it a habit to hang out with people that society had written off. I like it because Jesus never came across a situation that was beyond His ability to produce change, as long as the person wanted change. I like the story because the implication is that Jesus is always calling people to something better.
There are some reasons I’m not crazy about the story as well. They are basically the aforementioned reasons. If I’m really trying to be like Jesus I need to be more aware of those who have become invisible to society. I’m going to have be willing to divest myself of time and material resources to make a difference in other peoples lives. And I’m going to have to accept the call to the better places Jesus is leading me to.
Why would that be a problem you ask? Let me sum it up this way. “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4 NIV) The word “complete” in this verse literally means “meeting all expectations, with integrity, whole, undamaged, and/or intact.” The implication is that when Jesus comes into our lives He wants to fix everything that is broken in us, not just what we want him to fix. The reality is we have become comfortable with some of the dysfunction in our lives. It’s kind of like a story I heard about a man that didn’t want healing for a an injury he had sustained at work because then he would have to quit drawing disability and go back to work. Spiritually speaking, we get lazy that way sometimes. We want to continue limping around, spiritually disabled, rather than accepting the wholeness (spiritual, emotional, relational, behavioral, etc.) that has been provided for us.
As Erwin McManus, in An Unstoppable Force, put it, “A person who is growing in spiritual maturity is developing emotional health. A person who is growing in spiritual maturity is healing broken relationships and building healthy ones. A person who is growing in spiritual maturity begins to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and no longer allows the imaginations of the heart to run riot. A person who is growing in spiritual health begins to treat his or her body as the temple of the Lord and establish disciplines that result in overcoming such vices as gluttony.”
In other words, Jesus wants to do more for us than take us to Heaven, He wants to make us complete people.