Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fool Me Once

The Bible is right. It tells us that the serpent was more crafty than any of the beasts of the field. He still is crafty, and we still just fell off the rutabaga wagon. A case could be made that what we seek to do at Highlands Ministries, in encouraging people to be more deliberate in how they live their lives, is expose the games of the devil. He sells barrenness, and we celebrate fruitfulness. He sells autonomy, and we enjoin submission. His craftiness, however, isn’t always fought best through reaction. If the devil says, somehow with a straight face, impersonal non-forces unintentionally collided and out came life, and we look to Genesis 1 and 2 simply as the antidote to this folly, we have already lost the battle. Genesis 1 and 2 is the true story of creation, because it is the story of God. If we miss God in defense of creation, we’ve missed the point.

The devil also likes to mock us. We are told by the serpent, often through his respectable mouthpieces, men like Marx and Freud, that religion is a superstitious reaction to forces beyond our control, an opiate. We are told that Jesus is a crutch, and that religion is for the weak. The devil wins best, however, not when we concede the point, but when we fight it. We beat our chest, and become macho for Jesus, showing ourselves again to be fools. We whip out our strength credentials, and the devil laughs.

Jesus isn’t a crutch for me, not because of my strength, but because of my weakness. A crutch is no help to a dead man. Jesus is more than a crutch, more than a wheelchair, more than a cure for cancer. He is life. Not only is He necessary to give my life meaning, but only in Him does meaning have life. Is He a means to help me face up to the harshness of this world? Yes indeed, but far more than that, He makes me able to face the harshness of the next world. It isn’t that He makes this world bearable, but that, because He bore my sins, He allows me to miss an unbearable eternity of anguish.

We are the fellowship of the weak, who rejoice in our weakness, for once we were fully dead. We were dead, and now we merely stumble. We are the ones who can’t face reality, the reality of His wrath. Because of Him, we won’t have to. We who once dwelled in darkness now live in light. And we who were once fools, are fools still.

When the devil accuses us, of weakness, of fear, of hypocrisy, of selfishness, let us speak with boldness that it is all true. We’re guilty as charged. But it is not true of Jesus.

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