The devil is not a cool uncle that buys you beer.
My friend Jimmy made an audio tape of the meeting during which he got kicked out of Liberty University. He played it for me late one night when we were driving to the beach. I’m not sure why he recorded the conversation, but by the end of it, the Dean was crying.
That’s just the kind of thing Jimmy was great at. He got interrogated for passing counterfeit money in Costa Rica. He taught me how to fit four people into a hotel room you’ve only paid for two people to sleep in. And when I tried to get in touch with him ten years after graduating college his email response said simply, “Want to see some nude photos of my wife?”
I’m sure he was joking. I think he was joking. It’s hard to tell because Jimmy always seemed one step ahead of getting caught. But he was a lot of fun to be around and when I found myself on an island drifting far away from all the other guys in my college that were in fraternities, Jimmy’s friendship filled a very real need. He might have been crooked on the edges, but at least he was sitting on the edges of the school with me, watching and wondering what it was like to be on the inside.
Sometimes I assume the devil is a lot like Jimmy.
He’s not really that evil. He’s more like your troublemaking friend that is always up to hijinks and tomfoolery. If you hang out with him, your days are filled with lots of those “you got me again” moments where you shake your fist in mock frustration when you realize he’s tied your shoe laces together again.
How did I get that perception of Satan? Just typing that word makes me feel a little weird, like I might be handling a venomous snake this weekend at church and dancing around like a crazy God person. How over the years have I been so numbed to his presence and his poison? When did I start to believe that the devil was more interested in pranks than in pain?
The devil must have the greatest PR in the world. In cartoons he’s always got a curly tale and a mischievous grin with a harmless looking pitchfork in his hand. He looks like the naughty version of cupid. And then when a little kid misbehaves, we call him a “lil devil.” Imagine if instead of being vilified by the world, OJ Simpson became a symbol of being mischievous. “Oh there’s Johnny, he’s a good kid but when his parents go out of town, he is quite the little O.J.”
But today I read two articles online that reminded me of who the Lucifer really is.
The first was the murder of Jessie Davies. She’s the pregnant mother that was kidnapped and perhaps killed in front of her two year old son. When they found the toddler home alone, all he could recall of the incident was “Mommy was crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy’s in rug.” Days later, they found her and the baby girl she was on the verge of delivering. The father of the baby to be is the suspect.
The second was the murder/suicide of the Benoit family. The details of that one emerged today. Chris Benoit, a famous WWE wrestler, strangled his wife and then perhaps a day later smothered his seven year old son. This was undoubtedly a little boy that was just coming into the best months of the summer. He had finished the first grade. He was learning how to read. He was probably just getting really good at riding his bike. The entire world was unfolding before him in that way that it gloriously can when you are a child. But three days ago, perhaps while he slept, his father, who he probably thought was a super hero given his pro wrestler status, put a pillow over his face and killed him.
Those two incidents are testament to the depravity of mankind, but more so, they’re reflections of the kinds of things that give the devil the most pleasure. He’s happy about death. He celebrates ruin. He dances in destruction. He’s not going to buy you beer when you’re underage or sit on the sidelines of a fraternity flag football game and make you feel like maybe you’re not that alone after all. He’s going to do everything he can to hurt you and break you and chain you down to a past you just can’t escape.