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On how the devil works to keep us from Christ. . .

9August2011

Some of the more theologically liberal Christian denominations assert that there is no such thing as the devil.  Now, maybe they mean a red demon with a pitchfork and pointy ears that sits on one’s shoulder and makes a person do evil things. . . but maybe they mean that there are in existence no forces contrary to God (that would be dualism I suppose).

Me, I believe that the adversary is real.  I believe that satan would like nothing more than to lure faithful, obedient Christians away from Christ and his holy church.  Call me crazy (and some have) but I think that the devil is alive and well and is active in the HC&A Church on earth, seeking to drive Christians away from God and the church (the source and strengthener of faith as a distinct possibility for life).

I think the adversary is especially wont to drive dedicated, faithful leaders of the church out of their pulpits and into some other vocation that will not satisfy them or fully put to use their gifts and call; driving them to despair and nearing the point of where they think they may have lost their faith.  That would make a successful day’s work for the evil one, wouldn’t it?

If I were the devil (which I am not 🙂  how would I wreck the church?

If I were the adversary (which, again, I am not) how would I destroy faith in pastors/leaders?  

First, I would cause all sorts of chaos.  I would create disagreements and conflict that would spark into full blown forest fires.  Next, I would have pastors work too many hours (too many is over 50 a week by the way– no one can keep that up for long and be truly healthy). Then, I would stir things up in congregations, raise the levels of anxiety, so that eventually people were at each other’s throats, arguing and fussing and fighting over things that never got answered such as “What is sin?” Of course, I would encourage name-calling and impatience and a lack of forgiveness– that works wonders on destroying congregations and pastors.  I would create a climate in church where no one stood for much of anything, rather there was a diffuse feeling of what we call love and acceptance which is simply a mask for a true call to the new obedience.  I would also urge congregants to insist on their own way, to triangle the pastor in all sorts of feuds and then act like they pay him too much rather than trusting his guidance/training/prayer life/theology/discernment.  Finally, I would chant the mantra that unity is the most important thing of all for the life of the church, above salvation, above repentance/forgiveness, law/gospel, above obedient discipleship.

Luther wrote in the LC (Lord’s Prayer, Sixth Petition) describing how the devil works: he “baits and badgers us on all sides, but especially exerts himself where the conscience and spiritual matters are concerned.  His purpose is to make us scorn and despise both the Word and the works of God, to tear us away from faith, hope, and love, to draw us into unbelief, false security, and stubbornness, or, on the contrary, to drive us to despair, denial of God, blasphemy, and countless other abominable sins.  These are the the real ‘flaming darts’ that are venomously shot into our hearts, not by flesh and blood but by the devil.” (BC, Kolb/Wengert, 454.)

Since I’m not the adversary, I would sure like to see some faith increasing rather than decreasing.  Since I’m not the satan I would love to see some prayer/discernment/differentiation of self/conviction/mission/ministry that was rooted in a  passion for Christ alone.

May we fall at the foot of the cross and beg for Jesus to protect us from the prince of darkness. . . may we cling to his promises, to the body and blood, water and Word so our faith will be strengthened. . . may we lift one another up and empower each other and cheer each other on amidst all of the flaming darts. . . may we never rejoice in brokenness within the body of Christ. . . may we put on the armor of God that keeps us safe from the wiles of the devil.

ACL@CCD

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