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Today’s post is written by Anthony Varesio in another installment of his “Imperfekt Chronicles.”
“It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees” (Deuteronomy 17:19)
C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters,” which I recently finished, was a very, well, unnerving read for me. This was my first C.S. Lewis book, and albeit, almost my last! For those who have not read Screwtape, it is a series of letters from one of Satan’s “professors” instructing his understudy on the art and skill of keeping our sinful nature in good order. Screwtape’s understudy, known as his nephew Wormword, was assigned a “hairless biped patient” (as they referred to humans) and bumbled his way through redirecting our attention and love from God. Creepy, just creepy. Previously, I had heard nothing but wonderfully insightful and heartfelt quotes from C.S. Lewis, so as I read Screwtape, I travelled through the book with growing apprehension and unrest. The most troubling part of ingesting this book, which referred to God as the “Enemy” and Satan as “The Father Below”, wasn’t the references to us or God, but the truths it yielded! It was like being in Satan’s war room as his minions plotted and strategized against God using us and our indiscretions, selfish nature, and weaknesses against God. Ouch.
One of the letters included the discussion of the Bible. It went like this:
Screwtape to Wormwood: “I find the lack of creativity of the Enemy heartening. Yes, He created the entire universe and guides and directs the movement of every atom, but He is apparently so distracted with that project, that it took Him 1500 years to complete the only weapon He’s has ever devised to use against us, and in the 2000 years since, He has given it not a single upgrade or modification. This weapon is, of course, the Bible. That said, being the same Word that spoke creation into existence, even the church itself recognized its power and danger and actually attempted to keep it out of the hands of the people for some time. We were more than happy to help them in this regard until those killjoys, the reformers, got their meat hooks on it, translated it, and distributed it. Suddenly, it was “open season” on us!” But thank Our Father Below that familiarity has bred contempt, and since the Bible is more common in the world today than Christians themselves, we’ve been successful in our marketing campaign to promote the Bible as just that: common. Bibles are given away like cheese samples, and because they’re so easy to come by, people assume they’re not worth anything except a place to press flowers or dust off when the pastor stops by. Encouraging that attitude should come easy even for you and hardly needs assistance at all. As the Enemy Himself said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Wormwood, never forget that the flesh is ever your ally.
If he begins to contemplate reading it, whisper the word, “Boring,” in his ear, and point him to a television, which, although he doesn’t realize it, has a great deal less action, emotion, and drama than the Bible. Tell him that TV is “real life,” and suggest to him that the Bible will always be there later, but he must watch TV in order to participate in conversations in the break room at work. Is he really going to say, “I missed that show—I was reading my Bible instead”? I think not. If there’s nothing on TV, he’ll likely watch it anyway, but if he’s actually considering reading a Bible, maybe because they’re so prevalent that he can’t help but trip over one now and again, suggest other priorities, no matter what those priorities may be and no matter how unimportant. The simple reality is that reading the Bible is quite possibly the most important thing a human can do, which is why it’s so easy to talk them out of it!
See what I mean?
I am a slow learner; God always whispers to me, but my mouth is always so full of “stuff” from my head that these whispers are often lost in my own mumblings. But God is good and faithful so He has special “hearing aids” even for people like me! My wife and I have been making an earnest effort to spend more time with God’s Word, but good old “Screwtape” has our number! The Enemy has quite the toolkit for distracting us from The Word – it’s called TV, Computer, Shopping… oh I am not going to go on and on; I mean, even shiny things that would amuse monkeys could fit the list, but you get the idea-we are easily orbited away from that one thing that is “the most important thing a human can do.” But like I said, God is great and even gets through to people like me because even after reading the painful truths of Screwtape, I still ask God “where is the rest of my joy and peace?” Duh!
Today He had his megaphone all set up for us by way of our daily morning devotional reading and it was so specific to our needs that it was one of those moments where you just say WOW. To add to it both my wife and I had prayed (unknowingly the same prayer) for peace and resolve with some challenges in our lives; wondering where the answers may be found, the devotional spoke of being a “bible slacker” along with, ready for this, uh huh, “Scripture: how to use the Bible to seek the answers to your questions and prayers!” How does He do that? ; )
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