Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Devil Not Named K

My buddy Sean and I were challenged to a 2-on-2, best of 3 basketball series Sunday afternoon. Our opponents: his brother and sister-in-law. The former stands 6'4" while the latter could have played Division 1 basketball had she wanted, I was told. Well, I could be a fish on a bicycle if I had gills and wheels, I chuckled to myself, though, in retrospect, the thought lacked any semblance of rational coherence.

So on a beautiful Sunday afternoon we suited up and threw down. Sean and I won the first game 11-9, with Sean proudly pronouncing, "That's how we do it in the South!" to his midwestern family members. Apparently in the South, we also lack consistancy because our opponents had us one point from a 7-0 skunk in Game 2. In the rubber match, they took an early lead and eventually had us at 10-7 in a game to 11. Sean and I battled to overcome the deficit and won in "overtime" 14-12.

It fascinates me how seriously I take pick-up basketball. Throughout Game 3, Sean and I wore our gamefaces, looking everywhere with great intensity. We spit motivating jabs like "Let's go" and "Man up." I bled a little. We were fierce, playing as if our fates depended on this game when only our pride did.

What really fascinates me is not that I get excited in a competitve setting. It is when these emotions are juxtaposed with my relative indifference to important spiritual matters that my eyebrow raises.

Why do I get so excited about a pickup basketball game but am so quick to spurn Christ Covenant Church for Bedside Baptist?

Why is it so easy to sit on the couch and watch television for hours on end but so difficult to go read my Bible and pray for a couple minutes?

Why is it so easy to believe that nothing exists after death but so hard to believe in God's promises for eternal life?

These inconsistencies argue for the existance of some kind of spiritual resistance in my life. They argue for an enemy.

From Genesis 3 to Revelation 20, the Bible depicts an enemy - Satan, Beelzebub, the serpant, the dragon, the deceiver. I think Satan's existance in large part explains the resistance I feel to so many spiritual disciplines. When I open the Word of the God, it threatens Satan's territory. He scoffs at my name but flees at the name of Jesus. Accordingly, it should not surprise me when I feel some intangible hesitation to opening my Bible while a frictionless path leads me to a basketball court. I'm NOT saying basketball is bad, but I think you get my drift.

Ignoring the existance of the enemy deters me from serving God. It also feeds me incorrect answers to the above questions, lies that have no source in anything but the opposition. This makes it exceedingly difficult to battle these doubts if I refuse to recognize their source.

"Ben, you prefer basketball to church because you prefer the flippant to the eternal. You say you care about the things of God but your actions speak otherwise. You are lazy. I bet God is pretty pissed with you right now."

"Humphries, you don't read your Bible because you think it is boring. You'll just get distracted and fall asleep anyways. What's the point? It really won't make a difference. Trust me."

"My friend, reason dictates that nothing exists after death. Show me experiential evidence to the contrary. Surely God made reason, a reason that does not substantiate his claims. Ignore what he says. He is a liar and has never wanted what is best for you."

When I deny the existance of the enemy, these thoughts must either come from God or myself. I often mistake them for Truth or for conviction. What a sad lie.

Thomas Jefferson once removed all the miracles from his Bible. You can find this Jeffersonian Bible in the gift shop at his home in Monticello. He actions portray our society's increasing resistance to anything that transcends reason. As if the pursuit of reason were the only purpose in life. As if reason were God. While reason is a good and redeemable gift, utter reliance on it makes it easy for us to ignore spiritual realities that have a very real effect on us. We feel silly for believing in the devil when the Bible clearly talks of his existence.

We ignore the things unseen, and we do so at great peril.

Ignoring the enemy keeps us from understanding the root of much evil that exists in our lives. Ignoring the enemy keeps us from fighting against his consistent attempts to separate us from our loving Dad. Ignoring the enemy keeps us from praying divine and crushing power down upon him.

In short, ignoring the enemy keeps us right where he wants us.


Oakley said...

I came across Ephesians 6:12 yesterday in church and I think it's one of the best illustrations of spiritual armor I've read. Hope your wounds are healing from B-Ball.

Ben said...


Thanks for the good word. I love that passage that uses all the war imagery. It makes me want to go fight somebody. Until the command which follows all that suiting up: pray. That ought to revolutionize the way I look at prayer.