The other day I had a conversation that made me a little uneasy. We were talking about ghosts, demons and devils. In of itself that is not unusual. If one spends anytime in the gospels they you will find yourself talking about demons and the devil. Jesus simply spends to much time dealing with them to ignore them completely.
But that was not the kind of conversation I was having. Instead we were talking about this individuals supposed real experience with a demonic attack. This person while living and working in Canada now, originally comes from India. Which holds to a pattern I have gotten used to. I only tend to have this kind of conversation with people if that are not from the so called Western World.
It seems that for the most part here in the West we like our spiritual world nice and tame.
Think about it. Where have all the monsters gone? Werewolves once brutal uncontrollable killers, now they are hunky protectors. Vampires once were the cursed creatures that hungered for blood and stalked the night, now they sparkle. Faeries used to steal children away if the dared to step in the enchanted homes (mushroom circles), are now children’s playmates. Mermaids were creatures that would drag sailors to their death, now delight us in song. I could go on but you get the point.
In the West we have done our best to tame the spiritual world. We have whitewashed it to make it appear safe. To make it almost harmless. Of course the problem is, somethings just don’t tame.
Every now and then I will hear a story of some animal trainer, or animal enthusiast that works with very dangerous and very powerful animals has been attacked, maimed or killed by the animals they worked with. Assuming they survived the take away lesson is always the same. They had gotten too comfortable, they forgot how powerful the animal was, they thought they were safe.
This is a dangerous attitude around animals for sure. But when it comes to the spiritual world it is potnetally disastrous.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating for running to the other side of the spectrum. I don’t think we should look for devils under every rock. Not all illness’, hardships, or bumps in the night should be treated as the demonic. Nor do I think we should call all every good thing a miracle, every sunny day an act of God or every pleasant Christian concert experience the presence of the Holy Spirit.
If anything it is not the ‘darkside’ of things that concern me. While I would consider it inadvisable for us to treat what the bible calls a roaming lion seeking to devour us flippantly, the real problem comes when we begin to think of God as nice and safe.
God is a lot of things, but none of them are nice or safe. Now this is not to say that God is mean and dangerous either. God is love, and God is holy And God is good, and God is just, and on and on I can go. But it is important to realize that God being love is different in some significant ways than God being nice.
Think about that for a moment. What are you like when you are just trying to be nice? Do you sort of listen to topics you don’t care about? Do you laugh at jokes that you don’t find funny? Do you eat food that you don’t care for? Nice is polite, nice smiles, nice protects feelings for the moment but nice doesn’t really care. It doesn’t really engage, it just stays on the surface.
God doesn’t just smile politely when we do wrong. He doesn’t only engage us on the surface, and for the most part our feelings are not high on his list of concerns. God’s love drove Jesus to the cross. His holiness and justice seeks to destroy sin forever. His goodness and mercy give each of us opportunities to turn to him.
To paraphrase the often quoted C.S. Lewis, God is not tame, but he is good. We need not cower from him, but we do need to take him seriously.