Sometimes, I am struck anew with the reality that my faith sounds utterly ridiculous. Looking at the core tenets of Christianity in objective black and white type, I can understand why people might avoid me. I used to be the person who mocked people like me! Consider -
- I believe that a thirteen-year-old virgin gave birth to God (uh, hell-o lying slut, is what I would have been thinking if I knew the girl)
- I believe that an all-powerful God took on human form but while living among us, was mostly unrecognizable (um, what do you mean you're the "Son of God" but you aren't going to prove it?!?)
- I believe that God allowed himself to be killed (look who's all-powerful now, hanging all weak and defenseless on a cross!)
- I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and is actually alive and omnipresent right now (that would be a quite a trick)
For example, I don't believe that Satan is all-powerful. He's stronger than I am, to be sure, and, given that he's been around for some uncounted thousands (or more) of years, he certainly knows a great deal more than I do about human nature, weakness, and the best bait with which to snare us. He can wreak havoc on the world and mess with my mind. But his authority is limited and his reign is short. Satan is working on borrowed time here, and he's making the most of it. He had a little setback with the whole God-incarnate event, but he hasn't lost focus. His goal never changes: destroy through deceit.
the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.
It's quite a sad commentary on the state of the church that we can know the devil's tactics (lie! steal! cheat!) and yet still fall prey, time and time again, to his work. How often we (Christians) live as though we have neither knowledge nor power to withstand "the gates of hell." We act like "those who have no hope", when, in reality, we have a firm and secure spiritual anchor (Heb 6:19!
Satan is a real enemy, of God, humanity, and creation. He revels in loss, despair, isolation, and fear; he speaks only lies. But he has been defeated. Do not give the devil a moment more of your time than is necessary to stand against him; never hesitate to shut him up with the blood of Jesus. You cannot ignore him but you do not have to listen to him.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
Peter's first letter to the church, chapter 5, verses 8-9 (NLT)