Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Lesson from Screwtape

In the book, The Screwtape Letters, by C.S.Lewis, Screwtape (the devil) writes to his agent, Wormwood, and shares this ominous observation. He says, “ Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestone, without signposts. “

O.K., now that’s a little scary. What does it mean?

It means it’s the little everyday compromises--or even just lack of focus, the often uncaptured thought, the mindless habit, the “innocent” flirtation--even the seemingly harmless distraction--if not checked--will lead us down a road of apathy and coldness to God. It doesn’t take huge sins to distract us, as Screwtape puts it, “Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.” Anything that that distracts us and takes our focus off of God is enough to pull us into the enemy’s camp. And the distractions are often very innocuous-even boring. Screwtape puts it like this: (said to Wormwood)“ As this condition becomes more fully established, you will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing Pleasures as temptations. As the uneasiness and his reluctance to face it cut him off more and more from all real happiness, and as habit renders the pleasures of vanity and excitement and flippancy at once less pleasant and harder to forgo …you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do…You can make him do nothing at all for long periods.”

Are we, as Christ-followers, being followers in name only or are we as my hero, O.C. says, making “God first, God second, and God third, until the life is faced steadily with God and no one else is of any account whatever?” I must focus my life on God alone and let nothing distract me into apathy. This is a choice I must make, because the road away from God is a gradual, easy path downhill. May I never be satisfied with mediocrity.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord (Romans 12:11)

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