If I were the devil I’d get pastors to build big churches and teach nice things about a nice God. I’d make sure they avoided the dangerous God of the Bible. I’d get them to preach a whole lot about the patience and kindness of God and leave out his holiness and justice. I’d have them preach a one-sided message about a one-sided God instead of the full counsel of who He is.
If I were the devil I’d raise up an army of televangelists to preach a false message of “God wants you to be rich” while much of the world dies of famine and starvation. I’d get them to empty the bank accounts of bent, old widows and blue collar Joe’s to finance their Lexus-driving, $3,000 suit wearing, mansion-dwelling lifesytle of “holy” hedonism. I’d help them cloak their message of greed with a “whatever you donate to this ministry will be multiplied one hundred fold in your own bank account” giving promise.
If I were the devil I would raise up an army of philosopher “theologians” who would undermine the faith of the average believer with fine sounding arguments. I’d use these theosophers to create doubt about the truth of God’s infallible Word, the relevancy of truth and the power of the message of the cross. I’d unleash their anger toward attacking the traditional church instead of attacking me. I’d use the vast intellect of my pawns to make ministry leaders angry, confused, discouraged or distracted. I’d unleash a new kind of gnosticism on the body of Christ and label it relevant Christianity.
If I were the devil I’d get evangelists to preach a gospel that sounds like the gospel but is really no gospel at all. I’d get them to make the sinner “say a prayer” whether he truly understands and embraces the gospel or not. I’d have evangelists challenge their unregenerate audiences to commit totally, try harder, submit fully, and surrender all. I’d get them to preach anything and everything but faith alone in Christ alone for the salvation of their souls. I’d empty a great word like “repent” of its true meaning and fill it with the filthy rags of good deeds cloaked as the gospel of grace. I’d deceive evangelists into evangelizing with a self-centered gospel that focuses more on what the sinner does than on what Christ has done.
If I were the devil I’d get youth leaders to teach more devotionally and less theologically. I’d convince them that theology was not relevant to the everyday life of the average teenager. I’d challenge them to give safe talks about safe things, things that teenagers related to, enjoyed and understood. I’d encourage them to avoid complex theology like the Trinity, the inerrancy of Scripture, justification by faith and the like so that they “don’t lose” their teenagers. Instead I’d motivate youth leaders to serve McNuggets of truth, deep fried in fun and dipped in sweet sauce so that their kids don’t get bored.
If I were the devil I’d get good teenagers to do lots of good things. I’d get them to build houses for the needy, give food to the poor and reach out to the hurting. I’d encourage them to do all of these things in the name of Jesus but without ever actually sharing the gospel message to those they serve. I’d motivate them to “hack at the leaves of evil” but leave the root of evil intact. I’d convince these teenagers that preaching the gospel was action and service alone. I’d paint a picture of Jesus that only served the poor’s physical needs and leave out his drive to fulfill their deeper, bigger, spiritual needs.
If I were the devil I’d attack the writer of these words with his own inadequacies. I’d remind him of every time he has messed up and failed. I’d show him his own hypocrisy. I’d convince him that he had no right to write such judgmental words. I’d challenge him to take the kinder, gentler course of typing safe, funny things. If that didn’t work I’d convince him that he is somehow better than the money-grubbing TV preacher, the false teaching philosopher or the fastfood youth leader.
But I’m not the devil. Satan is. And he doesn’t need any help. He is already doing a very good job at being very bad. Don’t you think?
If you were the devil what would you do?
*After writing much of this article I realized that Paul Harvey wrote his own version of “If I were the Devil” long before I wrote this one. Shout out to Mr. Harvey. Good day!