Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Screwtape Letters--Interesting Advice

It's been a long time since I read the Scretape Letters by CS Lewis. The last time, I didn't have a clue how to read or think about it. In case you don't know the premise of Screwtape, they are letters of advice from an older experienced demon (Screwtape), mentoring his nephew (Wormwood) in how to best manipulate and deceive his assigned patient and keep him from the "Enemy" (i.e. God)--very interesting reading. But I found this passage from Day 6 very interesting especially in how it deals with how we are to be Missionaries in our immediate community

"there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient's soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbors whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary."

Sadly, this is not a hard tactic to use and be successful at. It's easy to get angry at all the little irritations and bothers from the people close to us. We don't see the people in Zimbabwe sitting at the traffic light long after it has turned green because they're talking on the cell phone rather than paying attention to their driving. We don't see people in India letting their dog leave a present on our lawn. We don't see people in Seattle talking or nodding off during the worship or sermon. Come to think of it, I'd better not see that in Macomb either!!!

It's hard to share Jesus with someone when you have malice in your heart toward them. This is a great tactic against personal evangelism since most of us are not career missionaries or don't go on mission trips, and if we do they are short term. Yet our desires to serve Christ and share with others can easily become "imaginary" as long as it is focused on a country or people--"far, far away".

I for one do not want an imaginary faith, nor an imaginary evangelism built on things happening "over there". I want a faith and an impact that is here, and visible.

Satan wants to make the malice in our hearts visible. When he accomplishes this, our witness is damaged because it malice rarely goes unacted upon and second, our desire to witness is destroyed. Satan wants to make the fruit of our faith invisible. When he accomplishes this, our faith is rendered impotent, ineffectual and it doesn't make a real difference in our own lives much less in the lives of others.

God's heart is that the fruit of our faith is visible. A change in us and how we treat each other. A change in our goals of all our relationships to reflect a desire to make Christ known. A change in us so great that people will WANT to ask us what makes a difference in our lives, our joy, our hope. When was the last time anyone asked you what makes you different? What malice is Satan successfully creating in your heart for the people and believers around you that renders the fruit of your faith invisible?

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