In honor of Halloween, let’s talk about demons.
TV shows like “Constantine,” “Supernatural” and even “The Strain” deal with a demonic presence in the world which must be fought. Films like “The Conjuring,” “Paranormal Activity” and “Ouija” deal with a singular demon who engages in battle with everyday people. Sometimes the people win, sometimes the demon wins. Demons are popular.
Believe it or not, the most common question I get about being a pastor is whether or not I have ever performed an exorcism. My typical answer: “No, but if I did, it wouldn’t be like the movies.” Everyone from elementary students to adults has asked that question. To be honest, I doubt I will ever perform an exorcism. I know people who have, though, and they are people not too unlike me.
There is something I admire about the exorcism genre, and the real exorcists as well. Do some go too far in suggesting that darkness will overcome light? Yes. Do some give too much credence to the demonic and not enough for chemical imbalances? Absolutely. But I admire this about exorcists:
They believe that the Gospel has the power to change things today.
Exorcists acknowledge that evil is real, but not as real as Jesus. Evil is not eternal, it does not stand as co-equal to God, and it has an expiration date. Exorcism stands in dark places and declares “No further.” People who practice exorcism believe that their words have power to create a world which is demon-free.
Frankly, for all my wordsmithing about the present Kingdom, I am not always eager to put that Kingdom to the test. It is easier to “let it go” than it is to walk the path of forgiveness. It is easier to blame politicians than to act on poverty. It is easier to bury one’s head in the sand than it is to take a stand for healthy and whole relationships, free from violence and oppression. It is easier to say “It is what it is” than to believe the promises of the I AM WHO I AM.
This Halloween, I want to learn from the exorcists and believe that things can be different, that Jesus does reign and the Gospel can transform today.