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"What if I was So-and-so, and I had such-and-such and X number of people or this or that? What could I accomplish if...?" Grateful for who and where I am but wondering what else could be accomplished if..., I read these words late last night on the drive home from Alabama:

"It's with the second temptation that I begin to get curious because it seems so odd to me. It exhibits such a different understanding of things than I am accustomed to. The devil shows you all the kingdoms and nations of the world and declares his ownership of them. I'm not sure why you or the Father gave it all to him in the first place, or allowed him to take it and didn't at least hold the mortgage or something. In any case, what am I supposed to make of this? All the nations of the world in their power and splendor belong to the devil. I guess even Vatican City. So this doesn't leave me very many options, it seems, for political involvement; I can do without the splendor, but the power is something else again. Are you trying to tell me that no involvement with any political power is permitted, or are you only trying to warn me away from excessive involvement and reliance on the states? I don't know, Lord. The way these verses read makes it difficult for me to understand how I can have anything to do with the nations, and you certainly do not make it any easier for me to figure out how I am supposed to follow you when you inspire Paul to write Romans 13 on top of this, either.

I am stuck here, maybe because I do not want to admit what you seem to be saying, so let's move on.

The devil holds all of the earthly nations and their power in his possession and offers them back to you in exchange for homage. I am aware that some translations replace "homage" with "worship", but as my Greek has rusted from disuse, I'll accept this word. I also understand your refusal here, but before we get to that, this does seem to be such a pretty good deal that it's hard for me to see it as a temptation: what an opportunity for evangelization! To paraphrase that great theologian and philosopher Lyndon Baines Johnson, if you've got them by their ears, their hearts and minds will follow.

So I look at this opportunity and see all the good that would follow. If all political and economic power of the nations was yours, poverty is gone and all people can be well fed; welfare ends and we can get some decent health insurance. All the ills that have befallen us, your brothers and sisters, could have been replaced with variations of days at the beach with icecream. And think of the children you could have saved from all sorts of misery and exploitation, all for the price of a little homage that I don't think you would even have to mean deep inside.

I think I would go for this deal, Lord. You know better than I the homage I pay to the devil for so much less. So, give me this chance, and I think I'd take it. Why isn't the amount of good I could do with the power worth it, especially since I am in such a sorry state of soul anyway?"

From WHAT ABOUT HITLER (pp.16-17) (Wrestling with Jesus's Call to Nonviolence in an Evil World) by Robert W. Brimlow


Blogger GrovesFan said...

Why would God bother to have the temporary when He knows He will have it for eternity? Same with us too; especially me. I can be very temporal and the cultural mindset of the "American Dream" makes it even easier. God isn't bound by temporal things so He has no use for what satan offers. It's not Satan's to offer anyway in the end. Great topic though and as usual, makes me think.


Anonymous hollybird said...

Why isn't the amount of good I could do with the power worth it, especially since I am in such a sorry state of soul anyway?"

That is a powerful question, and one I think we ask ourselves frequently, albeit subconsiously. I think that sometimes it's easy for us to rationalize things in our life by saying that we will use it for so much good (ie, if you only give me this God, I promise to do this....)
Truth is, God knows what is at the core of our hearts and what the truth of our lives is. He knows what we will and will not do. Sometimes I think He withholds from us because of that. And sometimes I think it's just good for others to see us persevere through trials. In those hard times, they can see Him at work in our lives.
Great topic of discussion... i have much to think on tonight. My journal is filling up thanks to your posts!

Anonymous Jess said...

Wow, I think that requires more brain power to process than I have available at the moment. But I will definitely be coming back to take another look.


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