When I was in the 3rd Grade at Brown Elementary School I put my faith in Jesus. From that moment on I knew that I had a loving Savior, a Heavenly Father and a mortal enemy. Jesus became my obsession and Satan became my nemesis. I knew from early on I wanted to spend the rest of my life serving Jesus and ticking off Satan.
One time while walking down the hallway of Brown Elementary on the way to class I started thinking about how much I hated Satan for having kept my mom, and much of my family, spiritually captive for so long. I started thinking how he had blinded my eyes to the light of the gospel for nine “whole” years. I reflected on the damage he had helped to bring about in my own high-crime rate neighborhood.
When my mom turned on the news during dinner, I thought about the violence, crime and sin Satan was triggering and reveling in, not only in my family and neighborhood, but in the world at large. As I walked down the hallway thinking all that Satan had done to destroy the world and my family I did what any 3rd Grade Christian young man would do, I flipped off the devil. In my mind I was simply giving the devil his due…double birdies from my tiny middle fingers.
And I didn’t just flip off the devil once and then stop. I kept my middle fingers extended straight down toward what I thought to be his hellish home. With streams of elementary school kids walking by me in the hallway I’m sure there were a lot of scratched heads and strange looks, but I was too busy to notice. That was, until a teacher stopped me and asked me what the heck was going on. He saw my furrowed brow, my intense gaze toward the floor and two downward digits in the 6 o’clock position.
“What are you doing young man?” the teacher asked.
I looked up, disgusted by his interruption (of what I considered to be a holy moment), and responded matter-of-factly, “I’m flipping off the Devil.”
If I remember right he told me to stop and then kept on walking down the hallway. I’m sure he was wondering what kind of strange kid he had at his school.
He was right. I was strange. But I did have a very real God awareness and, therefore, a real Satan awareness too. The reality of God enthralled me and the reality of Satan enraged me. I was dealing with this rage in a way that wasn’t unimaginable for a kid who was raised in a verbally and physically violent family.
I hadn’t read Jude 1:8-10 yet, “In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings. But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.) But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction.”
Suffice it to say that Jude would have spanked me for my insolence toward Satan if he were in the place of that teacher in the hallway that day…and rightfully so.
Of course now I know that Satan is not to be toyed with, trifled with or taunted. He is to be defeated by the blood of the Lamb and a humble reliance on the Lord. Those who mock him do so to their own demise.
But God had grace on a well-intentioned elementary-aged kid that day.
No, we shouldn’t flip off the devil with our fingers, but we certainly should upset him with our lives. We should live lives that so reflect Christ that others are drawn to Jesus. We should share the good news in such a way as to depopulate the kingdom of darkness and overcrowd the kingdom of light.
Do I still think about giving the devil the bird anymore? Not really. Now I’m more consumed with advancing the gospel of Jesus through an army of teenagers who are passionate about Christ and His Cause. I’m more concerned with giving God maximum glory than blowing out Satan’s flickering light.
But sometimes I’m afraid that, underneath all of my ministry activities, there’s still a little 3rd grader giving the devil the finger.