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Cutting…and the Man of the Tombs

17 Apr

I don’t claim to understand the practice of cutting, though I know it has been going on for thousands of years…

And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.  Mark 5:2-5 (ESV)

Satan had brought incredible pain to this man, a pain that Bob Bennett aptly describes it in his beautiful, gospel-centered song, Man of the Tombs:

 Underneath this thing that I’ve become
A fading memory of flesh and blood
I curse the womb, I bless the grave
I’ve lost my heart, I cannot be saved
Like those who fear me, I’m afraid
Like those I’ve hurt, I can feel pain
Naked now before my sin
And these stones that cut against my skin
Some try to touch me, but no one can
For man of the tombs I am

From all the experts I’ve read and heard from, cutting is about “control”, though honestly I’m never quite sure what that means.  I do know that there is intense emotional pain that leads to it, and the story from Mark 5 helps us to see where this pain comes from: Satan and his servants.

Now, of course, I’m not saying that everyone who cuts is possessed like the man of the tombs, but I am saying that the lies which come from the enemy of our souls could easily result in such behavior. “You’re wicked and should be punished.” “You’re hurting inside and if you hurt yourself outside, the pain inside will go away.” (And like many of Satan’s lies, it is half-true. Cutting releases internal pain, but only for a moment.)

To all this I appreciate what Karen Swallow Prior writes

“I’m not surprised that self-punishing behaviors occur among Christians. And this is not to blame the church. For legalism—and I would argue that this is what these behaviors are at their core—comes in guises both religious and secular. The desire to control the destiny of a few moments, if not our lives, is a fact of the human condition. But it is a fact that directly opposes the gospel of grace. Indeed, our vain attempts to mete out our own justice and punishments and thus save ourselves merely reflect the universal human desire to be our own God. For those who self-harm, the gospel comes as an invitation to trust in the One who has enacted perfect and complete justice before God on our behalf, through his body, so we don’t have to punish our own.”

And a last word from Bennett’s former man of the tombs…

Underneath this thing that I once was
   Now I’m a man of flesh and blood
   I have a life beyond the grave
   I found my heart, I can now be saved
   No need to fear, I am not afraid
   This Man of sorrows took my pain
   He comes to take away our sin
   And bear its marks upon His skin
   I’m telling you this story because
   Man of the tombs I was.

 

For Monday, April 20th: Mark 6

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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