Satan's Ally: The Church

“…fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans.”   ~Screwtape

While writing to encourage his nephew / apprentice Wormwood in C. S. Lewis’ masterpiece, senior tempter Screwtape observes that many converts to Christianity have been reclaimed for hell. He tries to downplay the significance of Wormwood’s human “patient,” the one he’s charged with getting to hell, becoming a Christian by pointing out that, “One of our great allies at present is the Church itself.”

“Do not misunderstand me,” Screwtape explains. “I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as with an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans.”

Satan and his devils prey on our continual confusion between appearance and reality. We sometimes view the Church based on purely physical terms: does it have a steeple, how many members, what’s their contribution, do they have a praise team, are they friendly, were the restrooms clean, is it well lit, is there enough parking, do they have a program for singles? And we view people in the Church the same way: what is she wearing, why did he say that, he didn’t say ‘hi’ to me, she’s been divorced, he never smiles, they don’t discipline their kids, they don’t come to Bible class.

I suppose it’s quite obvious how the devils in hell, intent on separating us from our God, could see the Church as a great ally. How we view and judge the Church sometimes completely contradicts, and therefore undermines, what are our true beliefs about the Church. We know the Church is God’s elect. But when we fuss and argue and split over insignificant issues and ideas, when we treat each other worse than we treat strangers at the store, we can’t help but see the Church as worldly and ordinary. Nothing special. We know that men and women are created in the image of God and made to live for eternity. Forever. But when we see an old man or a sick woman, or when we notice deformities or other frailties, or when we focus on our own aches and pains, we all begin to seem very temporary. The one we sit next to in our Church assembly, to us, may seem weak and silly. To Satan and his devils, that same person is known in hell as a “great warrior” in the Kingdom of God. But we don’t see it.

If we’re not careful, that constant confusion between appearance and reality can kill us. Judging the Church and God’s people in the Church based on outward physical appearance and not invisible unseen reality plays right into the devil’s hands.



1 Comment

  1. John

    I agree, but the answer to the Churches problems lie in redefining “our” membership in his Church. Too frequently it seems to have become a club rather than a family. We have distorted our heavenly fathers purpose for gathering with own personal needs while gathering. We are adopted into Christ family through our beliefs in Jesus and experience of death and rebirth in Baptism. But frequently you would never know we were part of a single family if you listen to yourself the next time you comment about an assembly or speak about a program at your church. Do you hear the terms I get made fun of so frequently when discussing the cowboys such as “we” and “us”, or divisive, separatist descriptions such as they and them? I am saddened by my own willingness to welcome others into my sports team family easier than that of my eternal family.

    But I have decided to make an effort on my part to change that, starting with myself and those I can influence I will try and place my emphasis where it belongs. I am part of the body of Christ, as are you if you are a baptized believer, I will try to care for you just like my brother or sister. If you are not a believer I will try and show you Jesus love so you understand why you need to be part of this family. If we respect this sentiment beyond the family members we see on Sunday or Wednesday out into the community at large we will make the body stronger and change the world. If we don’t then Screwtape was right and we are playing for the other team and don’t even know it.

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