Jun 30, 2014

Screwtape on Separation of Church and Self - A Modern Attempt at a C.S. Lewis Classic

I have been pondering for a year or so how to write about the subject of stewardship and finances in an interesting way. You may have read the series of articles from the perspective of a $100 bill. You can check those out here. After recently reading a few more letters from C.S. Lewis’s book I had to try my hand at his style using a modern day struggle as we steward our time and relationships. The book, The Screwtape Letters is a series of letters written from the perspective of Screwtape, an officer of some sort in the army of the evil one, as he mentors another minion named Wormwood. If you haven’t read the book it is excellent and does a wonderful job of opening our eyes to the temptations that may come our way.  If you haven’t read the classic satire of C.S. Lewis you can pick up a copy of The Screwtape Letters here.

MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
 
Our father below will be enraged that you have let your patient get to this place.  His regular church attendance is a sign of how much you still truly have to learn.  It is no matter now.  You are where you are and you must work with the human to move him toward the separation of Church and Self.  Let me explain. 
 
The enemy desires for these creatures to be one with him.  He desires that they be set apart from all of their normal infirmities and that they lay those things down as a sacrifice to him.  He suggests that they put to death all of the little things that we would use to own them and to control the humans for our purpose. 
 
This act of dying to self is hard for the humans to do.  We have crafted the things of this earth to be so appealing to them that they have trouble laying these things down. The enemy has taken Sunday but we must maintain that day as the only ground that is set apart for him.  You see Wormwood, in order to be one with the enemy, to be truly set apart from our ways, the human must give every moment over to the ways of the enemy. You must not let this happen.  If you can keep your man focused on himself and the worries that we throw at him in the world for six days, we can reclaim the seventh and take up residence even in the pew.
 
The enemy has designed the game so that the humans can bring him glory through their work. “Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God…” and other such talk.  Whether your subject is a butcher, a garbage man, a CEO or a leader in ministry of the enemy, if the patient lives out that unity and oneness with the enemy, your cause is lost.  If your man lives with that holy-spirit kind of life where love and joy and peace and all of those other grievous acts pour out naturally, he is able to move the cause of the enemy forward in his daily work.  In fact, we have had more butchers and garbage men and CEO’s getting in our way than anyone would believe. They have a special place to interact with folks where it counts. These laymen can do major damage to our cause. 
 
Now is the time to hollow out your man’s faith.  Convince him that he must seem patient and kind and good on Sunday, but encourage him to forget it by Monday morning.  Let him dress up for the folks at the service and be on his best behavior.  Convince him that he is some sort of lower class Christian than the pastor.  He must not look at his daily work as a ministry for that other kingdom.  Your man must be self absorbed, grumpy and grumbling on the six days of the week that matter most. 
 
The enemy created on the first six days and rested on the seventh. Men are so quick to forget that. Without the six days, God would have just rested.  He intends for the Sabbath to fill your man up to minister to others and to create havoc for us the rest of the week. We can’t allow that.  Encourage your man to judge others at the Sunday service and to feel judged.  He’ll dread it every week and perhaps you can keep him from connecting his new found faith with real life.
 
You’ve heard of the separation of church and state.  The men downstairs have taken that premise far beyond where we ever imagined.  That doctrine has the power to destroy schools and nations.  Lucky for you, the same doctrine has the power to destroy your man.  You must separate his church life from his work life.  Feed him a constant stream of worries about what tomorrow holds.  Don’t even let him conceive that he could do the ministry of the enemy where he is.  Convince him that if he keeps his head down and stores up wealth, one day, perhaps he can retire to a life of ministry.  If you have your man six days, the seventh doesn’t much matter.  If you shape his career, he’s not likely to have anything left to give in his older years.
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