Pinterest is dangerous.
We repin photographs of beautiful houses, well-organized offices, tidy laundry rooms, and always-made beds. It's pornography. We lust after these images. We want them to exist in our reality. We want to come home to perfection. We want everything to fit neatly in this little square, and we want other people to affirm it.
We do the same thing in church.
We really want the gospel to fit into this neat little package, a logical equation that always has the same outcome. This, too, is dangerous. We run the risk of robbing people of unique and individual experiences with God.
There's this guy who's been demon possessed for a long time, and he gets these seizures. He lives out in the middle of nowhere and Jesus finds him. He rids him of these evil spirits and restores the man to right mind and health. The man begs Jesus to let him follow him. And you know what? Jesus says no. He tells the man to go back home and tell everyone what God did for him.
That's weird. We're so used to the formula "accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior + become his disciple = salvation." That doesn't happen here. The gospel for this guy is to make up for lost time. Go back to your home. Go back to what was taken from you. Tell everyone that God had mercy on you. Jesus doesn't want the guy to give up anything else. He wants him to take back the life he lost.
Later, Jesus talks about discipleship. He says that anyone who wants to follow him has to deny himself and take up his cross daily. The Greek for "deny" means "to act entirely unlike oneself." And the cross is this instrument of torture, of death. That demon-possessed man already did all that. When he was possessed, he already acted "entirely unlike" himself. And his existence was torture, marginalized and terrorized by these evil spirits. Jesus didn't need him to give up anything else.
I want you to reconsider the "salvation formula." When you think about other people and "where they are with God," stop robbing them of salvation just because it doesn't fit the equation you've come to know. And when you think about the people that Jesus healed and saved, remember that not all of them became disciples.
For some people, the good news is just getting your life back.