In my last post I mentioned Satan. That got a reaction. It got reposted by someone who is watching for Satan in America and it received comments, mostly verbal, from a variety of folks. Most of the comments circled the issue of the Devil.
Do I have to believe in the Devil to be a Christian? I think it is more important to believe in God than to believe in the Devil. But, I also think it is important to recognize evil as real, relevant and powerful… just not as powerful as God. I definitely think that the strongest weapon of evil is separation and that the greatest weakness of evil is loneliness.
Those are areas of clarity that I’ve come to over my lifetime. God is real. Jesus is real. Evil is real and supremely powerful compared to us, but not powerful like God is powerful. I don’t fear evil. I fear God… that is, I don’t respect evil. I don’t even respect its power. I respect God. We live in a swirling turmoil of evil, and I think that’s supremely important to understand and a viable image to grasp. As if we could be creatures who could somehow inhabit a whirlpool that is seeking to draw us downward and away from the light, we live in a swirling turmoil of evil. We can recognize the value of the water, the beauty of the light, the nutrients within the system, but it is constantly moving and consistently drawing us away into separation.
This is the world we have created for ourselves through sin, that which separates us from God and from others. And part of that comes from acting like it is possible to have all the answers. We are pretty frantic these days to tell the answers to each other. And people seem to know just what we’re all supposed to know.
I know a guy who lives by answers. He has a quick, insightful and deliberate mind that masterfully delineates the world. I’ve sat and just watched him in conversation with others and it’s made me feel a bit like Watson beside Holmes. He’ll talk with someone and state out what they need to do, think, realize or see. Like a surgeon’s knife he cuts into and removes the primary issue and I’ve seen person after person find relief, direction or clarity. It is wondrous.
But it also has limits. I’ve seen him not pay attention to everything or be so clear on his answer that he can’t recognize the greater depth of the question. There are a handful of lesser known stories that Conan Doyle wrote in which an unnamed but “famous, non-professional consultant to the police” offers a solution to a mystery being considered by others and who’s solution is wrong ultimately. Holmes can get it wrong.
I find I mostly live with questions. I know that people come to me for answers but I also find that most of my counsel is pointing them toward what they’ve already said or experienced and opening it up with them. I’ve come to clarity in some areas and I lift that up for others asking, “Don’t you see this as well?” When they disagree or dismiss it, I’m all ears, wondering “How is it, then?” It’s mostly questions for me.
Because, someone jumped into the whirlpool, amazingly, took hold of my hand and somehow has started to draw me out. And the only strength I have allows me to reach out to others and offer assistance to help them latch on as well. I still live in the swirling pull. I still recognize how weak I am in comparison to it. But there is one who has taken hold of me. There is one who is stronger than the whirlpool and is able to pull me into life. I’m just hanging on.