“Freedom means we have to assume radical responsibility for what we are. To be enslaved means that we always have somebody else to blame for our problems.”
-Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go
I love this quote!
In his book, “Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go,” Fr. Richard Rohr uses the story from Luke 8 about the demon-possessed man (Luke 8:26-39). The man was naked and lived among the dead in the town’s graveyard. The people in the town are comfortable with the fact that he lives out there on his own, away from them.
The demons inside the man confront Jesus, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” (Luke 8:28 NIV)
Fr. Rohr points out that we often feel more comfortable with our slavery rather than with freedom. The man was bound and chained, hand and foot. He was kept under guard. The townspeople tried to control him.
“When we project the darkness in us onto another person or other groups, then these people or groups end up accepting our projection. Sooner or later we all believe the world’s version of who we are” -Richard Rohr, Simplicity
Luke 8:30-33 (NIV) says,
30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission.33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
Rohr explains that raising pigs for this area was the way the farmers made a living. Those pigs being drowned in the lake was very costly for their owner. The workers tending the pigs ran off to tell their master what had happened. It causes a commotion in the town and the people come out to see what happened.
Luke 8:34 (NIV) says of the man, who was now healed from the demons:
When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.
Rohr talks about his work with alcoholics in the same way he talks about this man. The family of the alcoholic complain about the person, say that they causing so many problems in their family, and how hard their lives are because of that person, but when they seek help, decide to get healthy, nobody is more agitated about than the family. There is now no longer anyone to shame or blame about their problems. The rest of the family is now required to step up and take responsibility.
This is co-dependency.
“We reciprocally bind one another with our lies; we bind one another through our negative feelings and our negative ways of thinking.” -Richard Rohr, Simplicity
The townspeople are upset at Jesus for healing the man. Their economy is ruined. They are essentially saying, “we care more about our pigs than salvation.” Our livelihood is our savior, not you.
The demon-possessed man was enslaved by the demons and the words spoken over him by the townspeople. Jesus set him free from both. When he tries to follow Jesus to the next town, Jesus sends him back to reveal the newfound freedom he has to the town. The town is enslaved to their swine. They are enslaved to their economic system.
This is what we are to do as Christians. To be set free by Jesus in order to show those enslaved around us what real freedom looks like.