November 23, 2011

Luke 11.24-26

"When an unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none, he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and invites in seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there-- so that the last state of that man becomes worse than the first."

5 Comments:

At 10:58 AM, Blogger forrest said...

This is a real difficult one... the persistence of human wrongheadedness? An attempt to explain that? Does it? "Just" a metaphor?

"My house" == "Temple"? The continual erosion of spiritual awareness after each religious renewal movement, the tendency to keep the new words but return to the old spirit of routine religiosity?

Or just the difficulty of self-reform efforts, that subtle tension between becoming too smug and/or backsliding?

 
At 10:49 PM, Blogger Random Arrow said...

Great questions.

Exploring here. A little of your NT Wright and Walter Wink back atcha. I’m usually the one who misses the national and macro stuff in many texts because I moralize and personalize them. So it’s my turn to see this text as commentary on powers of national and large scale corruption.

Amos does a little house cleaning (unless this is a romantic presupposition that Amos had any real effect). Jesus inherits the seven-times worse. So on.

The problem at this macro level is that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a ‘clean house.’ Or know it when I see it. Partly clean, maybe. Fully clean, no. For example, Thomas Jefferson and contemporaries tried to start clean by ousting the evil empire and they turned around and failed by one vote to outlaw slavery (not just abolish the slave trade) in their newly cleaned house. Lincoln ruminated that his task as newly elected Executive was more ominous (seven new devils created by compromise?) than the task faced by Washington. But was this house ever really clean?

Very few meanwhile pay much attention to primordial Quaker or Ghandi-esque witnesses of staying out of wars altogether – Cromwells and kings alternatively – recruiting militia. The short and simple annals of the poor.

How clean is clean? At a national level? What does a clean house really look like?

I agree with the questions about how to take this teaching personally.

I’m thankful for the moments and seasons when I’m not reduced down to an eternal obsession with inward house cleaning because there seems to be and move in me a power and Presence greater than the-seven-times which is in the world.

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger forrest said...

Yes, thank you, some aspects I missed. The 'seven times' corruption that comes of bad compromises.

Like I've many times wished we really did have a Roosevelt as President, not just a sharp impersonator. But it hasn't much occurred to me to say, 'We're in this condition because Roosevelt's compromises really did preserve a corrupt system, were carried out in a niggardly and oppressive way, built up a toothpick castle that could be piece by piece dismantled, as the financial class he'd maintained in power gained more and more influence over the media and the public mind.

Mostly, you can't 'clean your house' by secular means. You end up having to compromise things that are really not negotiable-- the institution of slavery that you mentioned, for example.

I've been thinking... that "hope" is a crucial element of all this. We start feeling hope again when we see a secular power at work, manifesting what needs to happen. I see these 'occupy' groups, & think, 'Yay, the authorities really couldn't & didn't fool all the people all the time, and now God is bringing some reality into the national politics!' But if I were to put my hope in this movement-- and not in Godself-- I would pretty soon find the capitalists vanquished, but with seven worse evils replacing them.

 
At 7:36 PM, Blogger Pamela Wilson-Lipscomb said...

Great article! It is important that once God has set us free from something that we remain filled with His word and Spirit. The enemy is always looking for a crack to crawl through, just like a roach!

 
At 9:53 PM, Blogger forrest said...

Always seeking to enroach?

 

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