Along with much of the imagery in the book of Genesis, we put the devil in a storage closet, to be sorted through at a later date. Maybe when Halloween comes around. We can get behind the New Testament “neighbor” talk, and even loving the lepers, but the “devil” seems to be a poorly drawn cartoon character, an ill-willed fast food mascot that belongs with the Hamburglar and the like. Our college education interferes with belief in an evil tooth fairy.
However, it’s impossible to witness the brokenness of the world without ever wondering its source. Actually, that realization often starts closer to home. Try as we might, we can’t ignore our own brokenness. Even after becoming a follower of Jesus, our brokenness persists.
If God brings perfect peace, then why are we irate with the person who cut in front of us when a new cashier lane opens up at Whole Foods? When we know our mom probably didn’t mean it like that, why are we still offended at her comment? Why are we jealous of our roommate, when he or she gets extra days off work and we have to commute? I often find myself in darker, meaner places than I ever thought I’d be, seeing as I’ve already found “the Hope of the world.”
Sometimes “spiritual warfare” sounds like a scare tactic: a convenient way to thicken the plot of church daycare skits and services. Every good hero’s tale needs a villain. But then who is the enemy here, when emotional reactions ruin our days and strain our relationships? Is it us?
Well, it’s really a tag-team effort.
The enemy lobs the ball over home plate, and if we’re not secure in Jesus, we’re all the more tempted to swing. When stressed or scattered, we make even easier targets. We take the bait, take offense and react angrily. Whether or not we see him with a pitchfork and horns, we might see him in our social anxiety. We might see him in our impatience with and avoidance of others.
Jesus instructs us to take captive every thought. Keep our eye on the ball. This is not advice to be taken lightly when we realize what’s at stake. The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy our relationships. He comes to isolate.
Jesus wants us to be connected. The devil wants us to be divided. The more we become aware of the schemes the devil is using to steal our joy and wreck our relationships, the more (hopefully) prepared we’ll be.
What do you have trouble believing about the enemy?
Why is the enemy’s presence easier to forget than God’s?
What is the enemy’s favorite tactic to trip you up?
Ⓒ Revolworks 2018