Author: Chad Hyatt
Reflection: v. 13, ‘tempted by Satan’
Here’s a (bad) song idea: ‘The devil went down to the desert—he was looking for a soul to steal.’ Okay, not one of my best. But the Gospel does record that Jesus confronted Satan during his time in the wilderness. Mark is a little light on the details. But we get the picture: the one John refers to as ‘stronger than I am’ came face to face with evil. The question of evil has always been a thorny one—and sorry, it’s not one that I can solve for us. But evil is a reality that we, like Jesus, must face. Evil is more than the sum of every evil act human beings have ever done to one another, even with the compounded interest of millennia tipping the scales. On the streets, we’re not afraid to call it the ‘devil.’ Paul has insightful language about ‘powers and principalities,’ and even names ‘death’ and ‘sin’ as powerful forces beyond our control that pull all humanity into bondage. Lynda Joyce Baker once wrote a powerful psalm for our community that describes her experiences with the ‘system.’ However we name it, many of us sense there are forces of evil in the world. But we must never confuse human beings with these malign forces. In fact, we fight the devil best by refusing to demonize other human beings. As those who celebrate that we are claimed by God’s love in our baptism, we must recognize the same audacious claim of love upon every other human being. We are all of us, no matter who we are, created in the image of God. In our hyper-partisan times, when truth-telling is held in such low regard and facts seem as variable as the next opinion, we must engage in the messy and difficult work of loving. Even as we learn to accept our own messy and broken humanity, we must prayerfully and diligently cultivate a strong and compassionate heart for others. We affirm in our little community that we can ‘agree to disagree’—even passionately and pointedly. And, yes, we hold one another to account. Some relationships are so unhealthy and abusive that distance is required. But however tough our love might need to be, it must still be love. No human being is a devil, no matter how much we might act like it. Only real-deal, rolled-up sleeves love will bring us to a just and liberating peace. That’s how we fight the real devils.
Prayer Stronger One, delivers us from evil through love of our enemies.