Christianity 201

August 11, 2012

Distancing Ourselves from God

(NIV) Gen 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

CEB I Peter 5:8 Be clearheaded. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Today we feature the writing of a longtime friend, Jeff Snow. Jeff is now in his 12th year with Youth For Christ in Canada, and prior to that worked as a youth pastor with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.

This week, I decided to re-read for the third time The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis’ 150-page masterpiece of fictional correspondence between a senior and junior devil concerning their efforts to tempt one young man and secure his place with them in hell.

 The book is fascinating in that it explores issues of good and evil, faith, sin and temptation, from the point of view of the devil.  God is referred to as the Enemy.  The point of the book is that by better understanding the devil’s schemes in trying to destroy humanity, we can be more aware and less apt to fall for them. 

 In letter #12, Lewis points out one of the most effective strategies the devil has to ruin a life.  It has nothing to do with a great moral failure.  It’s not about that one dreadful choice that ruins a life, though that is tragic.  The devil’s most effective strategy against most of us is to get us caught up living from one day to the next without thinking about God or realizing how far away from God we’ve drifted, how far away we’ve gone from who we were created to be.

 The senior devil writes, “The only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy.  It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and into the Nothing.  Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.  Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” (pgs. 64-65)

 Here’s the question.  How many of us have just settled into a rut in life so deep that we figure that this is all there is, that there is no deeper meaning or purpose?  A rut so deep that we don’t think about the big picture anymore, don’t think about God like we once did.  We’re not terrible people.  We obey the laws and don’t hurt anyone.  It just feels like we’ve slipped away from the Light and into “the Nothing.” 

 Lewis’ perceptive quote placed upon the devil’s lips tells us that this is a dangerous place to be.  It’s not where God created us to be.  We are not meant to be separated from God.  We are meant to be His.  And, as one of Lewis’ devils says in a moment of clarity, “when they (humans) are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.”

 There is more to life than this.  Step off the gradual, gentle slope for a minute, and ask God to show you who you were really created you to be.  Who you really are!  And as you do, if you sense some unhappy, panicked voices in the background, just ignore them, and let them keep busy writing their letters to each other, while you step away from Nothing and towards the Light.

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