It’s been three weeks since Newtown, and I think we’ve pretty much talked about everything. Guns, mental health, medication, school security, and especially God. God-talk is always trending at times like this. People “turn to God,” and “lean on God,” and “find God” in the midst of suffering. Others ask “where was God?” or “why, God?” or “how could a good God do this?” In almost every case, the speaker rightly assumes that God is at least supposed to be the good guy. What I don’t understand is this: why is there so little talk of the bad guy?
The fictional villain Keyser Soze rightly said, “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” It’s true. The father of lies disappeared before the eyes of secularists by mocking himself with a red suit and a pitchfork. Who could believe in that? But he disappeared from the church, too, and he did it under the cover of our evolving theology. Think about it: “God is sovereign” no longer means “God holds the ultimate power and authority in the universe,” but instead “God is the only one that makes anything happen.” What are we left with if that is true? Just a confused and war-torn planet, where we wrestle not against principalities and powers but against against one Divine Being who is playing both sides.
G.K. Chesterton told a story like this in “The Man Who Was Thursday.” The tale’s mysterious, shadowy character called “Sunday” was, in the end, both the protagonist and antagonist. The powerful hero turned out to be the same man as the super villain. He was secretly pulling strings and causing chaos from both sides of good and evil. Many readers puzzles over the story, forgetting that Chesterton had subtitled his book “A Nightmare.”
Because it’s a nightmarish scenario, that God would do the work of the devil. That He would draw up blueprints for a psychopath to enter a school and murder helpless children. I can’t imagine a more frightening dream.
Thankfully, Jesus drew a clear contrast between Himself and Satan:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (Jn 10:10)
In other words, there are two kingdoms both operating in the invisible world around us. They both have power, but they are easy to differentiate, because they have opposite goals: Death and Life. When rivers of innocent blood flow, our first reaction should be “The enemy struck.” That is what happened at Newtown. The enemy struck. He probably started years ago, confusing an already confused and willing young man, then leading him down dark and isolated paths that finally led to Sandy Hook Elementary.
Friends, it is time to start believing in the power of evil again. I don’t care if we were turned off by over-spirtualizers who saw demons behind every fallen leaf or who heard them in every minor chord. That is no reason to reject the facts that there is a devil, that he has real power, and that we can and must resist him.
This is the over-arching plot of scripture and of history: Good vs. Evil. The kingdom of Heaven vs. The minions of hell. It is a war that still rages only because of the patience of the King, who limits Himself, prefering mercy to judgment. But He will not let violent injustices go on forever. One day, He will pick up His full power and put an end to His enemy. And on that day, those who harmed children will not get away with it. Indeed, they would rather be tied to a millstone and drown than face His court.
Painting above: “Spiritual Warfare” by Ron DiCianni. You can buy it here.