Most people are familiar with the imagery of a person walking through life, daily influenced by the presence of an angelic being on one shoulder and a demonic being on the other shoulder. It is a humorous representation of the Christian idea that we all have the free will to choose which influence will guide us. The little guy with the horns and pitchfork wants to push us away from God and everything He represents; the one with a halo and wings is always trying to pull us closer to God. The devil wants us to be stuck in selfishness, sin, and despair, while God wants us to come further up and further into unselfishness, peace, and joy.
Jesus explained this reality in John 10:10...
The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
The devil hates God so much that he does everything he can to make the creation of God fruitless and despairing. He knows his time is short and in the meantime will do all he can to kill, steal and destroy men and women, boys and girls, and to keep them away from God forever. He wants everyone to stay blind to spiritual realities or to give themselves to the gods of darkness, anything but know the true God.
I have such a vivid memory of sitting in an English class at St. Patrick-St.Vincent high school in Vallejo, California, listening to our teacher read those famous, despairing words of Shakespeare's Macbeth...
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Even though I was only sixteen years old, I could tell that William Shakespeare knew exactly what he was doing in crafting this story. Macbeth believed what he was saying in this famous soliloquy, and believing that life is meaningless is the greatest tragedy of all.
So many of our neighbors have never heard that their life has meaning and value. The too-real character represented with horns and a pitchfork laughs as our secular society has convinced itself that all of life is just chance, that none of it has any meaning, and that there is nothing after death except annihilation.
This is why it is so vital that we remember the second part of what Jesus said...
I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
We have been given an opportunity to remember how precious life is. During this pandemic, we have all instinctively wanted to protect our kids and our elders from this terrible sickness, knowing that life at every age and stage is valuable and meaningful. All of us have been vividly reminded that every person is carefully and lovingly made by God in His own image, and that every life is purposeful. It does not matter what race, gender, age, income bracket, or political persuasion any of us happens to be - every life is treasured. Not only that, but we will all live forever in one of only two places, so the choices we make in this life matter. Through Jesus, we can truly live lives full of hope, purpose, and joy regardless of our circumstances here on earth, and forever with God in heaven.
With this wonderful knowledge comes great responsibility - now more than ever.
Many of our neighbors are suffering - physically and spiritually. The numbers of people that we hear about in the news who have been affected physically by the virus or who have lost employment are not just statistics, they are real people. They live next door, they live in our town, we pass them at the grocery store and gas station.
As Christians, we must not turn a blind eye - we must look for those who need our help. We can share our groceries, we can share our money and resources, and as we share our material things with those in great need, we can also share the love and hope of God. If your church or community is already doing something organized to help people in need, jump in. If not, start something. The more of us that work together to meet the need, the better. A wonderful thing about abundant life in Christ is that there is always plenty of love and hope to go around, no matter what storm or pandemic is raging around us.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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