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Superstitious Hearts

Chad has recently moved from being consumed with talk of Star Wars to talk of Bakugans, those little round transormer like toys. They are a part of some strategic game where you battle with your little figures to rescue the world from other Japenese anime characters who have absorbed too much power or something. There are special cards titled things like chaos of darkeness and face of rage that can help you out in the battle. What’s a good Christian parent to do?

According to the online chatter, that feeling of a cold chill should be adhered to, taken as a warning before your little ones are snatched away by the Devil’s wily ways. (And, there is even a character whose name means “Devil”!) We, the children of the 80’s know what happens when you play too much Dungeons and Dragons…you become a mass murderer! Is there something magical (as in dark magic) oozing out of the game, swirling around the minds and hearts of the players like a green mist in a Disney movie? It seems to brainwash children, leaving them doomed to darkness while their parents watch powerlessly, lamenting they ever let the game in the house.

Really? That doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever read in the Bible about Satan nor God’s work in His creation. Adam and Eve weren’t hypnotized and therefore rendered powerless against the schemes of God’s enemy. They weren’t blameless victims of voo doo or sorcery. The serpent simply got them to follow their hearts, which were inclined to be their own gods, decide for themselves what was right and wrong and control their world on their own. It wasn’t mystical but quite the natural progression of looking for power, knowledge and life apart from the only One who is omnipotent, omniscient and the author and sustainer of life. And, I’m pretty sure we adult Christians are just as susceptible to this even at church as with any board game.

The dangers in these games are no scarrier than the dangers in a mall or a bar or a board room nor any less serious than our false sense of righteousness and security in our Chrsitian activity rather than in the person and work of Jesus alone. Its the lure to be our own God, to deserve our own awards’ banquet, to control other people, to be worshipped by our own universe, to determine for ourselves what is right and what is wrong that leads us all to grab that fruit from the tree with all its empty promises. Sin isn’t external, like the swine flu you might catch outside your home. Its a heart issue and is exposed by those things which tempt us most, but it isn’t created by them.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25

Satan has no power over humanity that God hasn’t permitted (read Job). They are not equals in a ying yang sort of tension. We, the created beings, can’t resist him with our own superstitious approaches to Christianity (shout this verse at him loudly with enough passion), as if the future of our souls (and the power for their rescue and redemption) rests in our fight and determintion. Where is the person and work of Jesus in that? Did He step out for a coffee break? Is there a sphere of life where He is excluded or impotent?

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

The insidiousness of the powers of darkness isn’t in some magical alien activity that might happen in children’s toys but its in the very realm of the human heart. So simple yet so elusive. And the solution isn’t in running away and screaming or reciting verses like incantations and garlic necklaces, but in the completed work of Jesus who has already defeated the enemy. The danger to Chad’s heart in whatever the latest gaming craze happens to be isn’t in the names of the characters but in whatever way his heart is encouraged to believe he can control the outcome of life’s circumstances if he just comes up with the right strategy.

Our grown up games are no different – we look for the power to overcome overeating or smoking in every strategy available before asking God to reveal our heart’s motives behind those addictions and for His power to change. When marriage gets tough, we want a verdict of doom on the other person far more than we want our own hearts to be changed and our faith to be grown. When the demands of my job feel impossible, I look for a new job or someone to sympathize with my case far more quickly than I ask God to examine my heart for the cause of my suffering and how His person and work will respond to it. Just like Bakugan or the Garden, the power of the serpent’s temptation isn’t some superstitious, green misty force but is found in my very own heart’s desire to trust my strategies rather than my Creator, Redeemer, King and Abba Father.

“Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread,…” Is. 8:12-13

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