Back in Genesis 3, just before the account of mankind’s fall to sin in the Garden of Eden, we’re told, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.”
Maybe that was true of the breed in general, but it was certainly true of one souped up Satanic snake, a demon-possessed viper. Venom was oozing from his slick tongue a good while before he actually sank his fangs into our gullible First Parents and spoiled Paradise. Yes, Satan was evil and twisted and cruel, but he certainly was also crafty. He still is. (Read C. S. Lewis’ classic The Screwtape Letters for a witty lesson in this regard!)
If, for example, Satan can get our attitudes poisoned, he’s just as happy for us to go to church on Sundays as he is for us to sleep in.
“Go on to church,” he may whisper in our ear. “And a pat on the back to you! How much better you are than the folks at home still snoozing!”
Once we’re there, opportunities abound for just a little venom injected here and there to poison our attitudes and twist our thoughts. The point is to get us completely focused inward on self and not upward on God. If we’re in “God’s house” but bordered on all sides by “me, myself, mine, and I,” Satan smiles a snaky smile. It’s so easy for the old viper to direct our gaze! Anything from Sister Smithers’ weird hat to Brother Gunther’s strange tones to the preacher’s annoying speech habit or the pianist’s missed keys will do the job quite well.
“Go on to church. It’ll do you good,” Satan whispers. Notice a little lisp? It’s caused by that slit in his tongue and his need to speak around fangs.
If we go to worship to bow before ourselves as consumers of religious goods and services, Satan would far rather we go to church than stay home. That snaky lisp is never more apparent—all those S sounds, you know—than when Satan whispers in our ears, “Enjoy yourssssssself. Worship, like everything else in your life, is all about you, your needs, your desires, your tastes.” If we listen, that snake is close enough to put a fang through our ear lobes. No big bites needed when a subtle but poisonous little pit viper drip will do the job every bit as well.
“Why not go to church?” he asks, knowing that he has done some fine work there.
Of course, the opposite has also worked admirably, too, from his point of view. He’s equally happy for ol’ Joe Blow to blow on about “all those hypocrites at church” if such smog helps Joe coddle the hypocrite under his own hat.
The serpent is not particular about the type of poison he uses or the rate of its effect, just as long as it is deadly.
Crafty he is. And too close for comfort. A snake of the subtlest sort. Hmm. I may have heard him whisper in my ear a time or two as I’ve been trying to write this column.
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Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.