I almost called this sermon “yet another mental health sermon” because I feel that either I preach on this subject often or I hear others doing so. And these sermons vary. I’ve heard sermons that would have people “delivered” from the “demon” of mental illness, I’ve heard sermons that promote the power of positive thinking. I’ve heard sermons that “other” people with mental illness with such intensity that people leave afraid of talking to or about people who struggle mentally. This is not at all meant to be a corrective to any of that, I can’t say that this sermon will be any better. But in this day of calling our schedules “crazy,” our work projects “insane,” and the weather “bipolar,” I thought we may want to take a look at the church and its relationship to mental illness.
This scripture that was read from Mark disturbs me, and that is one of the main reasons why I chose it. The man described is experiencing mental health symptoms. He is also demon possessed. Later on in this sermon I will reiterate what I’m about to say now: I don’t believe mentally ill people are demon possessed. I know that there are many things that happen in the spiritual realm that I do not understand, but I do know that when I hear hoofs, I should think horses and not zebras or unicorns. Many have taken this scripture and twisted it in such a way that it sounds like those who experience symptoms similar to this man’s must be demon possessed. With modern psychiatry, science, and general understanding of trauma and recovery, we now know the brain can become ill in the same way our bodies can due to any number of factors. Demon possession is no longer the ONLY explanation for such behavior. So I’d like us to leave the demon possession out of this story for a minute.
- Luke 5:1 - 20