The Greatest Trick
1 Peter 5: 8 - 9
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
One of my favorite tropes, repeated story elements almost as old as story telling itself, is the twist. There are a lot of great examples in book and film: Agatha Christy's And Then There Were None and Dean Koontz' Odd Thomas are some great ones if you're the paperback type, and The Prestige and Shutter Island are solid choices for the movie buffs out there. But if one stands the test of time, it's going to be The Usual Suspects. I won't spoil anything, because TUS is a brilliant bit of cinema production, and likewise contains a sliver of truth encapsulated in it's most infamous lines of script:
"The greatest trick the devil every pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
In the modern world, especially in the consumer-driven and consumption focused 1st world... we have a very easy time believing that statement almost as readily as we would sacred scripture. It's a slow con, which is why it's worked on us so well. We've explained away much of the presence of evil in the world in our history of intellectual pursuit. Some of those explanations do, truly, pass the sniff test of logic and complex thought. But all the while, as we think ourselves wise, we build up a wall between ourselves and the original plot twist which happened even before the words "let there be light".
That twist happens in the 2nd act of the great story that all of us are born into; when the captain of the angels... the most stunning, beautiful, and powerful of the angels gathered a third of the host and tried to seize the throne. It was a twist that even Milton had trouble doing justice to. We know the ending to that act; Lucifer is cast down, the throne is secured and the angels win the day... but that's hardly the end of the story. At the beginning of the 3rd act Lucifer, referred to as the Dragon and the Serpent in Revelations, shows up as the 4th named character. Unlike the others in the story, namely God the Father Almighty and our earliest parents, this enemy... the adversary... did not come to live peacefully in the Garden. He came to bring the war that he was losing to the mortal world; a dominion where he could have the upper hand.
You were born into that world. You were born into a world at war, but you wouldn't know it by the look of things. We have explanations for all but the most unexplained... and even then we can write it off as a trick of the senses or the mind. The wool was pulled over your eyes before you were even born... but that doesn't mean that the wool isn't there. Far be it from me to insist that you take my word for it. I only ask that you look at the state of things; wars and rumors of war, plagues, famines, greed, lust, murder... and all of it now glorified and accepted as the new normal. This, all of this, would be at least the beginning of the evidence that there was a great trick played a long, long time ago. That, dear Christian, is a twist that none of us saw coming... and it was a great trick at that. However... I wouldn't call it the greatest trick; I would argue that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist and then sat back with a smile while the world did the same to the church.
Armor up. Sharpen up. It's time to go to get back in the fight.