Touché – June 13, 2014
Posted on June 13, 2014 by under Touché,

The Devil Made Me Do It

Flip Wilson’s comedy line for whatever he did wrong was: “the devil made me do it.”  This week we talk about the devil in Alpha and on Sunday morning.  We may want to joke about the devil, but we don’t talk much about him in mainline protestant churches.  I would rather have another week on the Holy Spirit instead of “how do I resist evil.”

Yet I look around our country and our world today and it seems that evil has more than a foothold, it is running full force in our face.  School shootings seem to be a weekly occurrence; Iraq is descending into chaos and civil war; school girls are still being held hostage in Nigeria and I am sure I will be able to add more to the list by Sunday.  It is a story of more than just good people gone bad, there are forces of evil that are frightening to observe.

Somebody said this week “that the devil has a foothold” in HRC.  This statement was made about some of the challenges we are facing as a church.   It certainly seems like we are battling forces that are beyond simply flesh and blood, but I love the response of Stephanie Patton, one of our elders, who speaks with the “tongue of men and of angels” as she said: “some see the devil’s hand in these hurtful events, but I dare to see a greater design.”  Stephanie would probably not label herself a Calvinist, but she reflects a very reformed understanding of the nature of evil.  While evil is present and the battle is real, the victory is sure because on the cross Christ disarmed the principalities and the powers.  Theologians have likened it to the event we remembered this past week, D-Day.  Historians know that the war was won when the allies landed on the shores of Normandy.  That does not mean there were not ferocious battles as the allies headed to Germany, but the doom of the Third Reich was assured on D-Day.  We live with the assurance that the victory is won and that God is bringing good out of evil.

The story of Joseph in Egypt is the story of Stephanie in Hopewell.  When Joseph’s brothers think he will return evil for evil, he returns good for evil and says: you meant it for evil, God meant it for good.  A greater plan for the salvation of the nation of Israel is lived out. We can talk about evil and we should not joke about it, but we know that it does not have the last word.  This is a week where I need to be reminded of that, maybe we all do.  As Luther reminds us in the song the choir will sing on Sunday:

“And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.     The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.”

In that Word,