Sneaking Through the Paneling

As I was checking how many hits we had on a particular “Cure” trailer piece, You Tube invited me to watch a video of a popular Christian speaker chastising followers to not participate in any “Christianized” version of yoga. His warning was that any such practice opens one to demons. As I watched it, I was again struck with our propensity to want to be frightened, shamed, mistrusting almost everything around us. How much we want to be told which movie, which candidate, which music, which book we should fear.

I wonder if instead someone should teach us to fear the ones who are keeping us in fear.

We appear to be in a generation captivated by those who yell at our flesh to be their brand of “better” or more “godly” by that which they take part in or avoid. Without question there is wisdom and maturity to avoid many things that are not profitable or dangerous. But the notion that without my heart’s complicity, I can somehow fall victim to the demonic by mere proximity, is at the heart of a generation’s fixation on fear-based, sin-management.

Jesus seemed really serious, like He maybe meant it, when He said, “There is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.” It makes you think Jesus is saying that out a new and good and noble heart will come good and new and noble life. You can’t bluff that. And out of an unchanged heart will come unchanged, bankrupt muck, no matter what you put into it, no matter how diligent you are about virtue, values or discipline. And if you have a new heart, with new desires, new longings, new intent and you are taught to live out of that new life, it will ultimately overpower everything else. First, you first won’t want to put in what would willingly harm you. And even if something slips in unaware, it cannot change the new reality of Christ in you on your worst day! You either have the new and good and noble heart and a brand new fused with God nature, fully righteous, and you live out of depending upon it, or you had better manage every single moment and mistrust every step you take.

I love ethnic food. I’ll eat a wallet prepared from kelp, matted tree bark and blanched yerba mate shavings if they’ll stir in enough spice. And so I imagine I’ve eaten some food that someone blessed to an idol, or Rutherford B. Hayes, or Dakota Fanning. And I gotta tell you; so far, no demons. My kids always loved the day once a year when neighbors opened their doors to hand out free candy. Though that day may have source in historic darkness, not one of them has pursued a life of Satan worship. And they scored nougat based treats worthy of a Nordic king.

When Paul warns us about the wiles of a very real enemy, he tells us our protection, all of it, is found in trusting our identity, not looking behind rustling bushes. Who God says we are on our worst day and who He is in our worst calamity. When we doubt that-when we start to mistrust His sovereignty, protection, love, ability and care in our lives, when we doubt if we are really righteous because of some failure, that’s when we give ourselves permission to take off armor. When we stop believing the power of the Cross and resurrection to redeem, heal, free and protect. When our pain tempts us to imagine that He is unable, or has forgotten to care-that is when we are vulnerable to lies, to failure, to broken hearts, to wandering.

The evil one, I imagine, loves for us to fret and worry about the checklist of what we can or can’t, for fear of demons sneaking in through the paneling. It keeps us parenting out of fear and externally micro-managing from our fear of what they’ll try if we don’t give them a list. It never allows us to intentionally teach, modeling and enjoy our kids to receive His love and ours, and to trust and live out of what God has done in them. Then they don’t have to live out of rebellion or doing wrong just to see if they can get away with it. Love and trust and new life in them, begins to govern their choices.

It is time for free children of God to stop being bullied by those who keep their jobs by keeping us in fear, returning to them each week to tell us what we can or cannot do. Prohibitions that, for some reason, God has not bothered to share with us.

Well, I’d write more, but I think I just gave myself over to a drive for some spicy dish from another land.

John. One of the Three Amigos, part of the ever-growing tribe of grace

John Lynch