Went to church this last weekend, and the guest pastor spoke on the Lord’s Prayer, trying to walk the congregation through the prayer as the instructional prayer that it is. “When you pray, pray like this.” Unfortunately, this pastor was at best ineffective and at worst out right DANGEROUS.
Forget the fact that he ignored the opening of the prayer (“Abba” means DADDY, not the austere, passionless “our Father”). Forget the fact that he was more concerned about his perception of “when you pray” being about the COMMUNITY implied by the “you” than he was the prayer itself. Forget the fact that he was passionless and weak and kept using illustrations like “digging a well” or “shotgun blast” to describe different ways to pray the prayer that just plain didn’t make any sense. This is all just ineffective, typical, religious pastor nonsense. It’s bad, but this guy crossed the line from ineffective to dangerous.
When he got to “but deliver us from the Evil One”, this guy called that line “a rear guard prayer” and went on to say that he thinks most of the problems we face in this life are “normal human problems” but that we are told we have an Enemy and “from time to time” he will come against us.
…from time to time…
FROM TIME TO TIME!?!?!?
This guy, in effect, looked at our congregation and said, “You have an Enemy that wants to kill you, but don’t worry. He won’t come around that often.” What an absurdly dangerous thing to say! It brings to mind the old adage, “The greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”
This is like telling the 101st Airborne on the eve of D-Day, “You’re jumping in behind enemy lines. There are going to be Germans everywhere. But don’t worry. They won’t be shooting at you much. Your biggest problems are just going to be the normal things like frostbite, exhaustion, stubbed toes, that kind of thing.”
To quote my favorite Christian author, “Bullshit.”
This guest pastor was a FOOL and HARMED the church with these comments. Because the simple, plain truth is this…
WE LIVE IN A WORLD AT WAR
This is fact. This is truth. If you accept this “mystery”, as Chesterton would call it, so much of our lives suddenly make a lot more sense. My friend Kelli can attest to the fact that more tiny little crap happens to me than anyone else I’ve ever met. If we do not live in a world at war, if we do not have an Enemy that is trying to kill us, then how do I explain the constant barrage of crap coming at me? I’d fall into constant cries to God, “Why is this happening to me!?” And I’d probably go insane not being able to understand why the seemingly impossible (in a bad way) seems to be the norm for me, but not for anyone else.
But if I have an Enemy who is trying to kill me, that constant barrage of crap makes perfect sense. Of course I’m getting shot at! I have an Enemy that is TRYING TO KILL ME.
And for those that are starting to think something like, “Now now. Don’t be sensationalist. Don’t blame everything on demons.” Or “I prefer to not think about all that. It’s depressing. I prefer to think about good things.” For those of you starting in on thoughts like that, here’s my rebuttal:
“Then Jesus was led into the wilderness…to be tempted by the Devil. …Then the Devil went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.” Matthew 4:1,11
“So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs…” Matthew 8:32
“ ‘Look! I am sending you out as sheep among wolves.’ ” Matthew 10:16
“ ‘Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! No, I came to bring a sword.’ ” Matthew 10:34
“ ‘And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is fighting against himself. …You can’t enter a strong man’s house and rob him without first tying him up. Only then can his house be robbed!’ ” Matthew 12:26, 29
“Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him.” Matthew 17:18
This is just a few examples of Jesus’ ACTIVE RESISTANCE of Satan in just one of the accounts of his life. There are dozens more. That’s right. Jesus’ ministry spanned three years, that three years has been compressed into a couple hours worth of stories, and how many of those stories are about Jesus either actively fighting demons or teaching about fighting demons?
This pastor treated “and deliver us from the Evil One” as an afterthought. IT IS NOT AN AFTERTHOUGHT. For crying out loud, Jesus included it in his “this is how you pray” prayer, and this guy considers it a “rear guard” prayer!?
This is terrifying.
Satan is real. The Bible is clear about this. He shows up A LOT. And as my favorite Christian author, John Eldredge, loves to say (in addition to calling BS on the church’s BS), the Bible is not a book of EXCEPTIONS. “No, the Bible is a book of EXAMPLES…” (Walking With God)
The Bible treats Satan and his war against us as FACT, a VIOLENT fact at that, and yet we live like there’s no war going on around us at all. “Then the Dragon became angry at the woman, and he declared war against the rest of her children — all who keep God’s commandments and confess that they belong to Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17) Say what you will about the symbolism in Revelation, there’s really only one way to interpret this passage.
We have an Enemy, and he is trying to KILL US.
A quick note on Satan’s name. The word Satan literally means “Enemy” in Hebrew. That is your Enemy’s name. So, just as “The Lord is a warrior; yes, the Lord is His name!”, your Enemy is ALSO his name. He is your ENEMY. And what is an enemy?
“1. one that is antagonistic to another; especially : one seeking to injure, overthrow, or confound an opponent; 2. something harmful or deadly; 3. a) a military adversary b) a hostile unit or force” (Webster)
An Enemy is not someone who comes against you “from time to time”. An Enemy is someone who is ALWAYS against you. That is what MAKES him your Enemy.
I’m going to close this out with a video. It’s actually a trailer for a video game, but it is one of the greatest visuals for the world we live in that I’ve ever seen.
This video is a beautiful example of what is going on all around us, all the time, and how we are COMMANDED to respond. It opens with the young man, already affected by the war around him, enlisting in the military to fight his foe. He is trained, prepared for the world he is about to enter. Then he drops into that war. His Enemy is not a metaphor. His Enemy is not coming against him “from time to time”. His Enemy is a real, flesh and blood monster who is TRYING TO KILL HIM. So what does he do? He kills it first. Then, at the end of the video, he is a battle-hardened warrior leading other soldiers into that world of war.
THIS is how we as Christians are meant to live. We are at WAR. We damn well better act like it.
What’s your reaction to the fact that you live in a world at war? Are you resistant to it? If you accept the mystery that you have an Enemy who is trying to kill you, how does your perception of your own life change?