Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ode to the Devil

I have a vivid childhood memory of sitting in my bedroom and singing anti-Satan songs with my sister. We were both the composers and lyricists of these songs which they revolved around words that we normally were not allowed to use. So we danced around my bedroom singing, "Satan, you're so stupid," and, "The devil is dumb."

Apparently my mother heard us from the hallway and popped her head through the door.

"What are you girls doing?"

"We're singing songs about how bad Satan is." We responded.

My very smart mother took a moment to think before replying, "Don't you think Satan would like it even less if you were singing about how great Jesus was? Why spend your time focusing on Satan when you could be focusing on God?"

She left the room and we began singing again, making up new lyrics as we went along.

I was treating the devil as if he were an equal and opposing force of God--God's opponent in a cosmic arm-wrestling match that would only be resolved at the end of time. It wasn't that I was taking the devil too was that I was not taking God serious enough.

I was reminded of the above story when I came across this advice from Karl Barth:

"Everyone who has to contend with unbelief should be advised that he ought not to take his own unbelief too seriously. Only faith is to be taken seriously; and if we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, that suffices for the devil to have lost his game." (Barth, Dogmatics in Outline, pp.20-21.)

I find these thoughts very comforting. The doubts I may encounter in my spiritual journey deserve attention, but the gravity of my doubt, no matter how large it may seem, pales in comparison to even a tiny grain of faith.


Scott Hendricks said...

Thanks for sharing these wonderful thoughts!

Tim said...

This fits with my internal frustration/debate and Barth's words put me in my place..."only faith is to be taken seriously."

I take that to mean that if I focus on the doubt/unbelief, the devil gains a possession, a chance to score points in his game (to stretch Barth's metaphor). To deter my focus (for years at a time it seems).

Seeing this simple thought through has given me a serious "Aha!" moment. Thanks.

JohnLDrury said...

The devil deserves one stern glance and nothing more.

Dan said...

Hey Mandy,

I'm speaking with our high school students about doubt tonight and just read your blog the other day - I came back to get that Barth quote. Thanks for the great reminder, and powerful quote.

Sorry the retreat didn't work out - I'd still love to get you and/or John here investing in our students soon!


Tony Myles said...

I remember ten years or so ago working in the yard and watching my wife pull into the driveway with the radio blasting. No, this wasn't the usual Point of Grace song... it was Stryper's "To Hell With The Devil!"

And yes... she was singing it out like a pure 80s rocker.