I have a cold today.
Which is fitting. Because we are going to be talking about the devil.
I do wish we could blame the devil for things. He would be such an easy one to pin it on. We nod in that direction.
We say things like
- the devil made me do it,
- the devil is in the details,
- the devil is coming out of my nose.
That last one isn’t a saying, but maybe it should be.
But then we have a feeling that isn’t what we really believe, as Presbyterians. It would be easy to pin this cold on the devil trying to get me to stay in bed and watch Netflix but I think i think the blame actually lies with the start of school germs that are in every home with children right now. So if we can’t blame the devil for things like a cold, what do we believe then about the devil?
The devil and demons aren’t something we talk a lot about in the Presbyterian Church. As postmodern Christians, we tend to shy away from really thinking about the devil and demons and evil. It feels a little like Greek mythology, with God and the devil battling it out. But there is no getting around the mention of them in the gospel teachings.
I was thinking back to my earliest impressions of what the devil might be.
A lot of it came from cartoons.
The devil showed up a lot in the cartoons of the 80s, usually perched on someone’s shoulder. This version of the devil would whisper things into your ear, trying to get you to listen. But there was always a little angel on the other shoulder, pulling you the other way to convince you to do the right thing.
Or there were kids who dressed up like the devil on Halloween, which always involved a red tail and a pitchfork and usually some sort of horns.
Or, there was the George Burns version.
I grew up watching the 1980’s ” O God” movies with George Burns on VHS tape. He may have been my favorite devil of them all. George Burn’s devil had a great sense of humor and drove an amazing car. Why wouldn’t you, if you were the devil? These were my earliest devil impressions. I’m sure you have some of your own too. We all have some image of the devil.
But what do we really believe about the devil?