As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. — Mark 5:18-20
There is a great deal we don’t know about this man who was previously in bondage to evil. What we do know is Jesus humanized him where many more religious people would marginalize him. They already had done so. We are told he had been living among the tombs and people had tried to bind him for security sake. We don’t know how he came to be possessed. We don’t know his name. We don’t know his occupation. But, we can reason that only Jesus had come this close to him without fear and treated him with such dignity.
When he was restored to his right mind, the man “begged” to go with him. And, in this case, I don’t like to use the word “restored” here because actually Jesus brought him to a more illumined way of thinking. Jesus didn’t come to restore demon-possessed people to an old way of living. He came to bring a flood of new.
Having tasted the new, this man wanted to keep drinking. So he said, “Let me in the boat with you guys. I don’t know where you’re going next but count me in. I can’t imagine living the same way anymore. And, I don’t really know you but I don’t want you to leave.”
Jesus must have smiled. Like an infant with his arms up, the man was desperate for a divine embrace. But, rather than let him in the boat, Jesus said No. Stay where you are. Why?
Let me come too, Jesus. This would make a great story. You could stand me up wherever you go and let me tell my story. If they could see what you’ve done in me they will believe.
Jesus told him to stay where he was and do at home what he planned on doing out in the world. To tell his story. To let people know what Jesus had done. And, this would be his Kingdom work. This would be his way of helping the work of Jesus. And, I can see the wisdom in this.
Many are called to leave a familiar country and travel to a foreign country to spread Gospel seeds. I feel we were called to go to Italy specifically. When people ask “What made you choose Italy?” I respond by explaining that it chose us. We didn’t choose it. We picked up a cord one day and followed it and here we are. A series of unmistakably divine events have lead us here on the road of preparation.
But for this man, he was not called to foreign missions. He was not told by God to Go. He was told to Stay. Stay at home. Stay in your region. Does this make a calling any less exciting? Does this mean it is less important than the call of the global missionary?
The answer is whatever Jesus tells us to do is exciting. If he tells you one day to be a missionary in your house or in your town then that is an exciting ministry. We live in a world these days where the world is actually coming to us. God may be calling you to stay where you are and invite the world in. And, just as this man was instructed, tell your story. What else is needed? Charts? Worksheets? Training sessions?
The growth of the Kingdom happens in the smallest of ways, the most organic. Through telling your story where you are the world can be changed through the power of the Gospel. And, don’t worry about the other nations hearing the Gospel. God is sending out those He has chosen to go. He will dispatch his workers in due season. It is His work to perform and his plan to fulfill. You stay where you are and be a faithful seed planter if that is His purpose in you.
But what about when Jesus said, “Go into the world…”? (Matthew 28:18-20) The world is beyond you. Beyond the space you fill. Outside the walls of your house or your church building. The world is what God created and what God is redeeming. Go into the world beyond you and tell everyone you meet. That is his missional work.
You shouldn’t think of the call of Jesus to Stay Where You Are as though he were holding his hand up to say Freeze! He is not taking a defensive step back and closing himself off to those he commands to stay. Rather, he is calling them to imagine a context of missions in which the world is brought to their door and they are given innumerable chances to be hospitable.
So, think of your missional call. Do you feel most engaged by staying where you are? More engaged than you would be if you went to another land? Then, good for you. Perhaps God is in that inner desire to stay where you are.