There are two issues I wish to raise in this column today. One is how we regard God. The other is how we deal with Satan, the devil and evil in our Christian life. First, our attitude to the devil: I am convinced that God placed Satan, the devil, demons and evil in this world deliberately for a purpose. The purpose is irrevocable. Yes, He placed them, in my opinion. I stand to be corrected. Because of the suffering imposed on people by the devil, people have lost sight of the purpose for which the devil was placed. They pray every time asking God to reverse Himself and remove the devil. This prayer has been presumably unanswered, and to no avail. People have made their religious life a direct warfare with the devil and also drag God into the warfare.
Evidence of the divine purpose of the devil on earth abound in the Bible. But the people know better. They reject the Bible’s soft approach for dealing with problems the devil must bring into their lives.
Kate, a devout Christian in the neighbourhood, a cantankerous widow whose religiousity is a one-way traffic is un-teachable about this. She must march am, march am (Satan) at every prayer. The devil must be trampled upon in her prayers and told it is the loser. And shame unto it. She always believes she has given the devil a bloody nose. She has disabled it. She has killed it. The Holy Ghost, to her, is another name for terrible, consuming fire. She must call down the fire. Holy Ghost: fire. This saturates her prayers that are always earth quaking. It has to be that way to be powerful and a real warfare. She moves with her whole energy against the devil and her human enemies, who are the devil’s agents. She fills her face with wrinkles, to demonstrate her seriousness about the prayer, shaking her head violently. She is always punching the air, telling God what He must have to do about these her enemies. It may be said that she fights for God and on His behalf.
A lot of people make their prayers look like this, telling God how to run the universe. And you don’t just know how to say Amen to such effrontery and disrespectful, immodest disposition toward the Maker of Heaven and Earth. It is frightening. It is not our human duty to go about abolishing evil, killing Satan and his evil spirits. Trying to wipe them out could be against God’s plans. Without them, there is no test for faith. They are there to confirm our faith, or lack of it. They must be there. From this point of view they are not possible to eradicate. Satan’s ordained role can be linked to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. It tempted Eve and defiled her and her man, Adam. Till today Eve remains what she was. Satan is the harbinger of death. It is the cause of catastrophe, mayhem, disasters and great upheavals. Satan remains what it was, if not worse.
Kate’s church is called Mountain of Fire. There she boosts her belief that to eradicate Satan, the devil and evil people is a task that must be done. She makes this her obsession as a Christian and the reason she is a born-again. Satan, the devil and evil have loomed larger from what is happening in our society since this move to eradicate them started. Not to give up with the struggle or concede defeat, people are saying that these are end times, when to me the times are just beginning. People are having a swell time in parts of the world that are larger than here, where catastrophe is more frequent and intense. Those people talk of a “world without end”, while we are here sorrowing and wishing that the end comes. Satan has not diminished in size, in mischief, in spread and power, orbit of operation, sphere of influence and evil nature. Even in Europe there are people who worship it and call themselves Satanists. You however notice that prayer warfare is now a widespread mindset in our society. Why should prayer be warfare? Theologians and priests should help here. Does the Holy Ghost come with fire when summoned? No. Were the volume of prayers of this nature going up to Heaven to be answered, Satan and his ilk would have been eradicated in our world. But the intention has never been to remove Satan and prevent it from worrying us. The intention is to defeat it, not to kill it. We can’t.
I have looked into the Bible and seen a lot of allusions to Satan, the devil and evil. The way to deal with them is there. This is not a sermon. But I can cite one or two passages that require us not to try to fight Satan, the devil and evil. This is not being sanctimonious. An effective prayer must align with God’s will for us. The Word of God says in many places, in many ways that God is love. But people look up to him in terms of destruction, strong arms, fire, revenge, all, despicable base instincts of sinful man., God’s fallen creation. Think rather of God in terms of love, mercy, goodness that is inexhaustible, forgiveness, faithfulness, grace, caring about details, promptitude, exactitude and wisdom. These things are unfathomable, immeasurable and impossible to understand to us human beings. Our duty is to wait for God, not to instruct him or demand His action right now. There should be a spiritual debate on who God is and how He does things. The prevailing thinking about God in the society is wrong. Our prayer efforts must not be wasted, killing Satan, the devil and demons that have been put in their place to remain with us for ever. Calling up God in prayers to wake up, arise, meet up time, remind Him, not to delay and act quickly, while we stand by to see that He acts according to our demands is an insult. It is a great, collective and individual sin which we are paying dearly for. Who is mere man, the Psalmist wonders, that God cares about him? God is awesome. Let’s think about Him in terms of that, and we will save ourselves the sweltering sessions and the pounding of the air in the name of prayers.
The Bible puts God beyond the knowledge capacity of man. The Bible shows that God is much bigger than what human notion of Him can match or even comprehend. This is what the Church must teach so that Christians will begin with a notion of God that is closer to his real size and power. This is capable of modifying human conduct, imbuing it with that knowledge and fear of God that is ‘the beginning of all wisdom’. People’s notion of God here is ridiculous and agrees with what the professor and priest, Alexander Di Lella said that, “ people try to say God acts like a petulant little boy making a sand castle and wiping it out. That”, he said “is not in the Bible”. On this subject matter, Baptist preacher, Samuel Proctor, said quite honestly that “many preachers are intimidated about discussing these things. There’s nothing to be risked. God is God. We don’t need ignorance out there protecting God”. This is more so here, currently, than in America, from where he was speaking.
Not everything said about God is correct. But most people will not delve into that matter. The notions about God may be wrong. But they are allowed to persist. Church leaders will not swim against the current on the notions of God that are definitely wrong! What a misconception that God will be in combat with His minions, those He created. Rather than think warfare, our way of handling tribulations, Satan, the devil and all, is clear in 1 Peter 5: 8-9:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour: RESIST HIM, STEADFAST IN FAITH”.
Another passage from Proverbs 11: 6 is also good to keep in mind:
“The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires”.
Matthew 6: 11 asks God to “deliver us from the evil one”. Not to fight the evil one and kill it.
All these show that the evil one has to be here with us whether we like it or not. Our combat and warfare with it is in vain. Our only business is to avoid him. So, why the futile effort to kill it, burn it and fight it. People also ironically think of God in terms of power, might and size, but do not appreciate His Almighty nature in terms of these things; that nothing and nobody can stand up in combat with Him. Since, He is love, that’s not His style, any way.
Those who regard God as one who fills the universe are better off. In that way, he is ever present and does not need to cover space and time to come and help us. It undermines the size and power of God to request Him to come over, do something for us, go away and come back next time we call upon him. We reduce him to the size of our location – our homes, our churches, our prayer grounds. Some songs and choruses do worse things with the notion of God’s size: We miniaturize God with songs like:
“ I have a very big God ooo. He is always by my side.
I have a very big God ooo. By my side, by my side.”
God, by your side or you by God’s side! Are you serious? Is the big God in terms of an elephant, a house, a ship, an airplane, Atlantic Ocean or the sky? How would any such stand by your side? You would be the size of an ant or even smaller by comparison. How will the giant steps of a mighty object like that match the steps of your own tiny legs? That song makes no sense. We have to review entirely our effort to kill Satan and how we relate to the Almighty God as mere man or woman and stop ascribing to ourselves the size that we do not have, diminishing our Heavenly Father who fills the Heavens and the Earth, by our mere thoughtlessness, lack of modesty and humility towards God.