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  • Writer's pictureDouglass Smith

Get Off the Sidelines

ST MARK 9:14-29

I heard a story of a woman who was viciously attacked by a co-worker in front of her two- year old son while a dozen adults stood idly by. The woman's co-worker broke her nose and repeatedly punched and kicked her all because of alleged rumors and workplace gossip. The more shocking crime in this incident was a moral one. Not one of the onlookers lifted a finger to help. Instead they pulled out their cell phones to videotape the beating that resulted in a concussion, two black eyes and many cuts and bruises. The fifty-four second video of the beating recorded that only one person left the sidelines to help the victim- her two- year old son. It seemed as if everything within this two-year old drove him to leave the sidelines and become engaged in the fight. He could be seen hitting and kicking the larger woman. Even though his tiny feet did not do much damage, he kicked anyway. Even though he was only two years old, he knew it was wrong to stay on the sidelines and he must become involved in the fight. After watching this two-year old trying to come to the aid of his mother, these bystanders should have been embarrassed to show their faces in public. On the contrary, they showed no remorse at all. Before this beaten woman reached the hospital, the cowardly spectators had uploaded the video footage to their Facebook pages and other social media. Most of us are appalled by this type of indifference but I have a question for you. If you were there that day, would you have become involved or stayed on the sidelines?

In our text today, we see the story of a father who was tired of seeing his son tormented by an evil spirit. This had been going on since the boy was a child and the father had enough. He decided to take his son to Jesus. When he arrived, Jesus was not present but His disciples were. There was also a great crowd of people along with some scribes. The scribes were mainly disputing with the disciples. In fact, they seemed to be amused with the disciple's inability to heal the boy. About this time, Jesus shows up and asks what is going on? Remember Jesus is just returning from the mountain where He was transfigured before Peter, James, and John. When the crowd saw Him, they were amazed and ran to Him. Jesus asked the scribes what they were discussing with the disciples. The father spoke up and said I brought my son who has a mute spirit to be healed. Often this spirit seizes my son and throws him down, he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. I spoke to your disciples but they could not cast the spirit out. It seems that the inability of the disciples to heal the son weakened the faith of the father. Jesus said "O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to me." As they were bringing the boy to Jesus, the spirit rose up in him causing convulsions. He fell on the ground and foamed at the mouth. Jesus asked how long this had been taking place and the father said since he was a child. Some believe the longer an evil spirit has been present, the harder it is to cast out. The spirit feels he has a legal right to be there. The father said what you are seeing is not all the spirit does to him. There are times when the spirit throws him in the fire and in the water trying to destroy him. The father pleaded with Jesus to have compassion on his son and help him. Jesus responded, "if you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Just as Jesus told the father the same is true with us, believing is the key for answered prayer. When there is an atmosphere of unbelief, it makes it difficult to believe. There are times when you may have to seek a different setting. The father admitted that after all these years, his faith was weak. He asked Jesus to remove all doubt and to grant him unquestioning faith. You see the question in this situation was not if Jesus could heal but if the father had the faith to believe He would heal.

When Jesus saw the crowd approaching, He rebuked the unclean spirit and commanded the spirit to come out of the boy. The spirit had to be subject to Jesus but he tried to harm the boy one last time on his way out. Some thought the boy was dead but Jesus took him by the hand and raised him up. When all the excitement was over, Jesus and the disciples entered a house. Once in the house the disciples asked why could we not cast out the evil spirit? Jesus said This kind can only come out by fasting and praying.

Someone might be wondering what does this have to do with getting off the sidelines. Remember the multitude that was present when Jesus came down from the mountain. They saw the plight of this father and there is no indication where any of them made an attempt to help. No doubt they witnessed the spirit throwing the boy down on the ground. They saw him convulsing, foaming at the mouth and becoming rigid but did nothing to help. They may have even been present when the spirit threw the boy in the fire and the water trying to destroy him but did nothing to help. I believe if this took place today, they would have been the ones pulling out their cell phones, making videos and posting them on Facebook. They were content to remain on the sidelines. You see it is safe on the sidelines. There is no danger on the sidelines. You normally don't get hurt when you stay on the sidelines. Some say I don't want to get involved or I want to stay neutral. Guess what, neutrality is a crime.

Remember the story I shared earlier of the woman getting beat up? We may not want to admit it but some of us would have been the sideliners choosing not to get involved. Those sideliners could not be charged with a civil crime but in reality, they were guilty of a more serious crime. They were guilty of committing a spiritual crime. I was in prayer at the church yesterday and the Lord let me know that it is time to get off the sidelines. Being an innocent bystander is no longer an option. Satan is attacking God's people and many believers have chosen to be sideliners. We see what is happening but we choose not to get involved. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends." How can we say that we love our brothers and sisters but never become involved when we see them in need or in trouble? I John 3:17 But whoever has this world's goods and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwells the love of God in him?

Remember the prayer we had last December? The Lord moved mightily in that prayer. Confessions were made, declarations were made, words were spoken, prayers were answered, and lives were transformed. Have you noticed that since that prayer many of the saints and their families have been attacked? We hear testimony after testimony of what the devil is doing in the lives of God's people but what are we doing about it. Many choose to sit on the sidelines. This is no longer acceptable. It is time to get involved in the fight. Some may say how do we fight? We start by using one of the most powerful weapons at our disposable, PRAYER. We just came out of a week of prayer. It was a corporate prayer meaning it was for every member. Throughout the week, only 10 members came to the prayer. It is amazing how we never think prayer is important until we come face to face with some crisis. We never have time for prayer or think it is important until we are in trouble. Then we want everyone to pray. The devil is wreaking havoc in many of our homes and it is time to get off the sidelines. We can no longer sit idly by and let him have his way. It is time to go on the offensive and take the fight to him. He needs to leave the fight thinking the best thing I could have done was leave them and their family alone.

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