Mark 9:14-16: The valley of need.
“14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. 16 ‘What are you arguing with them about?’ he asked.” NIV UK
As I read this story today, my heart prayed, ‘Don’t let us be a powerless church down in the valley of need.’ God has not placed us here to show off our impotence. We are located in the valley of need. It’s a dark valley – afflicted by demons. It has people in it who are Satan’s victims; they are damaged by him. The situation is desperate. It calls for prayer, faith and fasting, as we will see. ‘’The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…’ (John 10:10), and this is his patch.
There is a form of religion that doesn’t really care about people (14). It finds fault and picks fights. It is miserable and grumpy and mean-spirited. It loves an argument much more than loving fellow needy humans. The teachers of the law weren’t getting on with healing the boy; they were just criticising and talking. There is a form of churchianity that does just the same in the valley of need. It is useless, and I want no part in it.
But real Christianity shows people Jesus (15), and when he is seen things happen. Jesus divides of course. He disturbs some (20-22; see also 17, 18); deeply disturbs them, and destructive forces are unleashed at the sight of Jesus. This is demonstrated by the worldwide persecution of the church. It’s never gone away. The demons hate Jesus; they fear Him. They are disturbed by His presence. They loathe the sight of Him and they fight like mad. They hiss like snakes and bark like dogs. So you can see a fiercely negative response to Christ. But for many others, when they see Him, they run to Him (15). They are ‘’overwhelmed with wonder’’ (15).
May the beauty of Jesus be seen in His church. Jesus magnetises. Just let Him be seen.
‘There is a new surge of interest in the impact of an attractive Christian life these days, as a major instrument in evangelism…Sheer friendship is at the heart of it, friendship for people whether they come to faith or not. And we take into that friendship a vibrant, though unvocalised, friendship with Christ. In due course it is bound to show…We have got to be living close to him ourselves, and that simply has to show in the way we behave.’ Michael Green: ‘Evangelism through the local church,’p.405.