~ Sequel to Unredeemed Believer ~
(Click here to read Unredeemed Believer)
Satan designed and built a perfect town for his purposes. Everyone wanted to live there, so it grew rapidly. In this town no one needed to lock their doors. There was no crime whatsoever. The residents of all ethnic and racial backgrounds lived together in peace and in material abundance. Schools were safe, productive places of learning where students were self-disciplined and serious. Philosophy and ethics were the most popular subjects and every teacher's desk had a Bible on it.
Parents exercised full responsibility for the moral character development of their children. Sexual engagement was reserved only for the marriage covenant. Divorce never happened. No one had any interest in using drugs, tobacco or alcohol. Contracts were not needed since a person's word was as good as his signature.
There were several well attended churches in town. Most of the cars had bumper stickers such as "God loves you." The preachers were eloquent and their sermons had every single person feeling really good and proud of themselves. Preachers explained how good and moral a teacher Jesus was and everyone admired the preachers and felt good that all was peaceful and well in their town.
One Sunday one of the town ministers invited a visiting pastor to address the church assembly. The visitor quoted words of Christ that the people had not read or heard before. Strange, uncomfortable words, such as "If you love your father or mother or even your sons and daughters more than me, you are not fit to be my disciples. And unless you are willing to take up your cross and come with me, you are not fit to be my disciples. If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it." (Matthew 10:37-39) The visitor continued, "Jesus told someone to come with him. But the man said, 'Lord, let me wait until I bury my father.' Jesus answered, 'Let the dead (spiritual) take care of the dead, while you go and tell about God's kingdom.' Then someone said to Jesus, 'I want to go with you, Lord, but first let me go back and take care of things at home.' Jesus answered, 'Anyone who starts plowing and keeps looking back isn't worth a thing to God's kingdom!'" (Luke 9:59-62) Then looking at the church leaders, the visitor quoted Jesus again, "You carry the keys to the door of knowledge about God. But you never go in and you keep others from going in." (Luke 11:52)
By now, the people were visibly upset and angry. One of them stood up and loudly interrupted the visitor, yelling "How dare you offend us with these words and bring discord into this church of peace!" The visitor replied with more words of Christ: "I came to set fire to the earth, and I wish it were already on fire! I am going to be put to a hard test. And I will have to suffer a lot of pain until it is over. Do you think that I came to bring peace to earth? No indeed. I came to make people choose sides." (Luke 12:49-51) "Humans give life to their children. Yet only God's Spirit can change you into a child of God. Don't be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God's Spirit gives new life... Everyone who has faith in the Son of man will have eternal life." (John 3:6-8a, 15)
At that, several people in front grabbed the man by his arms and told him he was no longer welcome. He quietly quoted scripture once again: "You will be arrested, punished, and even killed. Because of me, you will be hated by people of all nations." (Matthew 24:9) The visitor was quickly escorted out of the church and told to leave town and never return. His message was disruptive and not welcome.
Back inside the church, the minister apologized to the people for the disconcerting and unwelcome sermon. As he spoke, he noticed a folded piece of paper on the pulpit that he had not placed there. Unfolding it, he read in silence, "Be sure to welcome strangers into your home. By doing this, some people have welcomed angels as guests, without even knowing it." (Hebrews 13:2) The minister told the congregation to "Go in peace" and stuffed the note into his pocket.
By the following Sunday, the town was back to normal. All was well, pleasant and under control. Although no one welcomed the Gospel of Christ and its demands and challenges, everyone did feel good again about themselves and church. They were in love with themselves, with their town and with their church. Peace and happiness reigned again there. And that's just the way satan wanted it. Everyone was content and under control. The devil was happy with the pact he had with the people, and so were the people.
There are many stories in even the secular literature about humans making deals of peace and prosperity with the devil. St. Paul wrote, "Even satan tries to make himself look like an angel of light. So why does it seem strange for satan's servants to pretend to do what is right?" (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) Jesus asked, "What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?" (Matthew 16:26)
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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Weekly Reflections © March 3, 2001
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