We’ve been talking about The Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis and in the last post I told you that we would talk about our habits, our pet peeves, and how our enemy, Satan actually wants us to be religious.
I feel like I need to remind you that this book was originally written during the second World War. But somehow Lewis wrote it in such a way that if you were to read it today thinking it was written yesterday, you’d have no idea that it’s nearly 80 years old.
Habits, that’s what chapter two brings up. The habits of each person and how they can be used to drive a wedge between you and other believers, and between you and Jesus. One of those habits that prove most useful to Satan and his demons, is the habit most of us have of finding what annoys us about a person and then using that annoyance as the reason we don’t befriend them.
If you can admit it, you are among the few. I came to this realization only after I joined the church I now call home. Before that, I was unaware of how the world trains you to pinpoint the people different from yourself. In today’s world those differences are supposed to be celebrated, at least that’s what the media and the government tell you to do. But if you really, truly take an honest look at the tolerance preaching movement of the day, they don’t want people that hold opinions or beliefs that differ from their own. They want people who conform to their agenda, who happen to look different but not act different. And if Satan has his way, you, as a Christian will also take that menality – preach diversity but enforce conformity. And, do it in the name of Jesus.
I mentioned how I was unaware of this before joining the church of which I now belong. After joining and submitting myself to God, I was taught that not all of God’s people look and act the same. I thought that I knew that but looking back I see that diversity was not preached at other churches I attended, nor was the idea that worship can look different from one person to another, not to mention from one culture to another.
Those are habits, habits that the world teaches us, and in some cases, the church teaches. This is where Satan thrives – lets you believe that you are a good God-fearing Christian without letting you see that you actually think only Christians who look like you, act like you, talk like you, and believe like you are the only ones getting to heaven.
This is also where Satan actually likes the idea of you being religious. He will keep you so focused on the wrongs of other people that you’ll completely forget about yours. He’ll encourage you to come up with rules and then make other people follow them before you can admit them into heaven as if you’re the gatekeeper. Satan loves legalism and the notion that we need to earn God’s love.
My favorite quote from chapter two is this; “…he still believes he has run up a very favorable credit balance in the Enemy’s ledger by allowing himself to be converted.” (Keep in mind that it’s a demon saying this, when he says Enemy, he’s actually talking about God. God is his enemy) In other words, Satan wants us to think that we need to earn God’s love because the longer we think our salvation is in our hands is the longer we see a distorted picture of who God actually is.
There’s a question Satan wants to keep out of your mind and that question comes up at the end of chapter two; ‘If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?’
What a person does, how they act, dress, talk, or what they look like has absolutely no bearing on how much God loves them. The same goes for you, that’s why it doesn’t matter what the person in the pew behind you or in front of you does on Saturday – God’s grace is bigger, and better than any ill conceived notion that they should do better or be better so they can be like you and go to heaven.
Satan loves it when we point our fingers at each other rather than taking a look in the mirror. Don’t let him win by letting those thoughts of so’n’so take you over. Yes, they’re sinners, but so are you. The good news is, God loves you too much to let a pesky little thing like sin get in the way of you being with Him.
Focus on that today, you’re a sinner, Jesus died for it. You can’t earn it, you get it anyway. You don’t deserve it, it’s yours anyway. We don’t worship God because we are good, we do it because He is good, and no matter what else is going on, nobody can take His love from us. Not other people, not Satan and his demons… NOBODY.
Dear God, thank you for being you, thank you for being good. We wouldn’t even know what good is if it weren’t what happened at the cross and we thank you so much for that.
Help us to see other people from your perspective and through your eyes, not from where we sit in church on Sunday. God, we pray not that you are on our side, but that we are on yours. Amen.