One of the most popular articles I’ve posted recently is one which gives space to a lengthy C.S. Lewis quote from an essay titled “On Living In The Atomic Age.”
How he counseled the Western world in dealing with the Cold War is spot on what we need for facing COVID-19 today. That article was a win so let’s go back to the well. Sort of.
I recently ran across a short piece written to resemble C.S. Lewis’ famous work The Screwtape Letters. In the original book, Screwtape is a senior demon, instructing his nephew demon, Wormwood, on how best to get people to turn away from God. In the fictional letters, everything is backward. The “enemy” is God and all that is evil is good. Recently, the Reverend Aaron Michael Nielsen channeled his inner C.S. Lewis with his take on a modern entry…
My Dear Wormwood,
Plagues are a most effective weapon given to us by our father below. Normally, Christians are quite comfortable in receiving the dreaded sacraments and gathering in their prayers and other heinous arts. But if you can stir up a hysteria by means of a plague, so that they cut themselves off from our enemies gifts to them, the torment of isolation will drive them to despair and season them quite deliciously, much to our delight.
Get them to forget about their usual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving and encourage them to become gluttons, slanderers, and lose all regard for their neighbor, thinking only about themselves and their immediate needs. Storing up treasures which we can send moth and rust to destroy, further sweetening their torment.
If you can, help them to redefine their usual words like “church” and “fellowship” and “ministry” so that they feel comfortable, cutting themselves off from our enemies’ care and they can be tempted all the more.
Yes, Wormwood, a plague is a tried and true method of taking their eyes off our enemy and getting them to worship their own bodies. A most desirable position for we tempters. Never let a good crisis go to waste!
Your Affectionate Uncle,
Just because the Church, of all sizes and stripes, can not traditionally meet right now doesn’t mean that the church isn’t meeting right now.
I want to hear 95 decibels of worship music while having my senses assaulted with haze and lights. I want it bad. I also want to be out for breakfast with my men’s group, digging into our issues. I want it bad.
While these things aren’t happening, the church is still happening. Long before there were sound systems or even pews, believers came together to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:23-25) and we can still do that via Zoom or FaceTime. It isn’t as personal, nor as good, but it gets the job done. All of us should have times on our calendars for interacting with other people for the purpose of spiritual health.
While we can’t sit on a pew or have blinking lights in our face, worship can be streamed. We can feel a connection to God and each other, knowing that massive amounts of other people are singing the same songs at the same time in harmony and unity. All of us should have times on our calendars to stream a worship service with everyone in our household.
While we can’t sit and listen to someone teach and challenge us from the scripture, you can learn to do that for yourself. We need disciplines of reading scripture and prayer to remain resilient. All of us should have times on our calendars set aside for God, whether it’s reading scripture in the Crossroads App or the paper Bible on your bed stand; whether it’s getting prayer at Crossroads.net or just praying for, and with, the people in our house.
Stop complaining about what has been lost. Stop procrastinating about starting a new spiritual discipline. Stop waiting for the pandemic to end so you can get back to your normal spiritual routines. We should not be biding our time right now. Instead, we should be creating a new spiritual reality for ourselves and our families. We can be a spiritual victim or we can be a maturing believer. The choice is entirely yours. And it’s dictated by what you do.
Our faith has produced faithful people who have endured plagues, bombings, starvation, and oppression of every kind.
They figured out how to hold to the essentials of the faith while not just maintaining, but even growing, in their spiritual practices. We can do the same.
Plagues may be an effective weapon of God’s enemy, but you aren’t without your own. Your choices will decide who wins today—Screwtape or God. Choose wisely.
You can read my original C.S. Lewis article here: How will the bomb find you?
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