Denise Day Spencer

January 4, 2006

Theology for non-theologians

Filed under: Devotional Life — denisedayspencer @ 2:12 am

On New Year’s Day, Michael preached a wonderful message to our tiny congregation. I just wish more people had been there to hear it. (We only had seven of our usual 12-15 . . . but then, who’s counting?)

His text was I Corinthians 9:24-27. In verse 26b Paul says, “I do not fight like a man beating the air.” (NIV) Michael explained that this means we should not act as if we have no enemy, and he concluded that our enemy is ourselves.

I agree on both counts. So often my sin, my desires, my self-centeredness are my own worst enemies. Although I still need frequent reminders of my own fallenness, it is easier for me to think in these terms than in terms of spiritual warfare–not that the two are mutually exclusive, by any means! I’ve never been into blaming all sin on demonic forces. Usually I think we need to be brought fact-to-face again and again with the sin that lurks within us, the potential we all have to live for ourselves even when we belong to Christ.

However, sometimes I need to be reminded that there is another enemy as well. I affectionately call my tempter “Slubgub” (not to be confused with the “Slubgob” of C. S. Lewis’ chapter 18 of “The Screwtape Letters,” although I think they may be distant cousins . . .) Every now and then when I know I’m being disobedient or just plain mean, it helps me to ask what Slubgub might be trying to accomplish in my life just then. And the funny thing is that almost as soon as I have that thought, I feel and/or act better. Screwtape told Wormwood, “Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves.” It’s as though the moment he is no longer under the cover of darkness, Slubgub admits defeat and slinks off . . . for the time being, anyway.

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