The Devil Shows up in Unusual Places

Thanks but no thanks!

“Sometimes I feel like I make decisions that are remotely biblical, people who call themselves Christians are the first to criticize and say I’m crazy, that I am taking the Bible too literally, or that I’m not thinking about my family’s well-being.”

Have you ever wanted to say “Thanks but no thanks!” to a friend who was commenting on your behavior and they were telling you not to do what you are doing?

What’s up with that?

Pastor Chan writes about going to Africa and returning to the US to his home and asking his family to move to a smaller home. His friends said things like “It’s not fair to your kids” or “it’s not a prudent financial choice” or how about the one, “you are just doing it for show.” He just wanted to live a simpler, less expensive life so he could give away more to people less fortunate. This was not the usual thing to do.

Christian friends?

Is there a possibility that Pastor Chan is obeying a higher calling than his Christian friends?

I think so.

I have often thought that our Christian friends and even Christian family members can do the work of satan.

Before you think I am taking this too far, I feel that most of our friends and family members are doing the devil’s work unwittingly.

Mostly it is a matter of misunderstanding the intent of the person who is acting.

Eugene Peterson, the translator of the Bible into the popular version The Message, had some thoughts that highlight how misunderstandings can occur. He comments on the time Peter rebukes Jesus in Matthew and then Jesus rebukes Peter is some extremely strong language. You know; “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’”

It wasn’t that Peter said something so bad but he had a very different viewpoint than Jesus and their two viewpoints clashed.

Peterson states:

“To Peter the cross was evidence of failure.

To Jesus the cross was the purpose for which he came to earth.

To Peter the cross meant that Jesus had been defeated.

To Jesus the cross was the means by which Satan was defeated.

To Peter the cross meant that evil had won the day.

To Jesus the cross was the path to final victory over sin.

To Peter the cross meant that Jesus was gone forever.

To Jesus the cross led to the empty tomb.

To Peter the cross was a badge of shame.

To Jesus the cross brought salvation to the world.

To Peter the cross meant they had no message to preach.

To Jesus the cross became the message they would preach to the nations.

To Peter the cross made no sense.

To Jesus the cross displayed the wisdom of God.”

Let’s toss in some very human emotions. Peter loved Jesus and he did not want to lose him. Also I suspect he did not want someone he loved so much to have to endure crucifixion a horrible and degrading way to be executed.

In addition, like many of us, Peter just could not fathom God’s plan for Jesus. Why should a man who represented God’s kingdom here on earth have to suffer such a horrible death? To Peter it was not fitting that this was happening. Jesus was about to be treated like a common criminal and He was a man of great love, a holy and pure man. Jesus did not deserve this.

What can we learn from this?

Can our Christian friends and family members do the work of the evil one?

They may not understand the call that is on another person’s life. And if you are experiencing “a call” you can’t explain it, but you know it is real. They may possibly never understand but you need to obey God, not your friends and family.

Pastor Ray Pritchard writes, “our closest friends may sometimes become our worst enemies. In this case Peter’s loyalty was not in question. What he said was foolish and wrong and reflected wrong thinking, but down deep he truly loved the Lord. That’s what makes this so tricky. We may find that our loved ones unwittingly become dupes of satan, tools he uses to get us sidetracked spiritually. In fact I daresay that this sort of temptation would more likely come from a husband, a wife, a co-worker, a close friend, a parent, a child, a close relative, or a friend we’ve known forever. In their attempt to “protect” us from what they perceive as danger, they may be Satan’s tools to keep us from doing God’s will.”

Pritchard continues “If we live on the level of our emotions, we may find ourselves actually opposing Jesus. If we think that our understanding equals God’s will, we are bound to fall into many grievous errors. And if we think that the way of the cross is not for us, then we ought to ask ourselves if we have ever really trusted in Christ at all.”

He recommends we ask 4 very hard questions about this issue:

“Am I ashamed of the cross of Christ?

Am I avoiding the cross myself?

Am I blocking someone else from taking their cross?

Do I demand that God’s plan make sense before I follow it?”

There are always a thousand reasons to say no to God but there is one overwhelming reason to say yes: God is asking you to say yes!

To your friends who want to stand in the way, sometimes the best thing to say is “thanks but no thanks.”

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