Possessed. Now that is a selective word. We reserve such an evaluation when we want to describe unnatural or bizarre behavior. “They acted like they were possessed,” is what we say when reporting. “They were scary” or even, “They acted crazy” fails to convey our experience.
And yet every person is possessed by some drive or emotion or desire everyday. We are all living under the influence of someone or something. That is why we dress the way we do and talk the way we do, to name just two everyday habits.
You say, “I don’t care.”
I ask, then, “Who is that using your lips, tongue, and vocal chords?”
You scrunch up your face at me.
“Who are you?” I repeat.
The apostle Paul pointed this out to the Christians at Ephesus (yes, Christians are possessed too). “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:17-18).
Note the categories: unwise or understanding, “Drunk with wine” or “Filled with the Spirit.” Now imagine a day in the life of an Ephesian. What will be the outcome as she lives out her Monday? Unwise? We certainly can predict what would take place at home, at work,or at school if she were drunk all day, right?
She is who she is, but she is under the influence of anti-wisdom in the first example, and in the second, she is under the influence of alcohol. In both cases, she is who she is, but she is possessed by something else that causes her life to be what it is. It’s a series of bad decisions because she is unwise on the one hand, and on the other, well, I think we all know at least one person whose life is a tragedy because of their drinking.
But what if the Ephesians listen to Paul? What would life be like if they understood the will of the Lord? If they did, then they would act differently than they did the day before his letter arrived. Yesterday, they did A, B, and C. Now that they have been informed by the Apostle as to what the will of the Lord is, they will do X, Y, and Z. The difference is based upon what they have taken into their hearts and minds. In other words, what they possess now.
What if they realize that they need to be emptied of themselves, dispossessed of their former ways of thinking, living, acting and instead be filled with the Spirit of God?
They are who they are, they’re just now under the influence of Someone else, possessed by Someone scary good. Their behavior becomes unnatural because it is under the influence of the supernatural. The Christian life is a life lived spiritually by the Holy Spirit of God.
Let’s all be honest with ourselves. When it comes to our present living, who or what is possessing us?