Heroes & Villains - Part 1

Throughout the story of Harry Potter, there is a denial of any possibility that the great evil wizard, Lord Voldemort could still be alive after his disapperance. Over and over, Voldemort's followers are able to manipulate and infiltrate the ranks of authority and power. The turning point finally coming when Voldemort replaces one of the most powerful wizards with a look alike. As the tension builds and the wizarding world is overthrown by the dark lord, One of Harry Potter's professors makes this simple statement, “Voldemort is playing a very clever game. Declaring himself might have provoked open rebellion: Remaining masked has created confusion, uncertainty, and fear.” (pg 208, The Deathly Hallows)

The parallels throughout history are unmistakable. Adolf Hitler brought hope to a nation and then led Germany down a path of complete darkness and oppression. King Henry the VIII pride and selfishness led England into a downward spiral. One of the United States earliest and greatest generals was Benedict Arnold. Because of his early successes against Great Britain, some even desired to replace General Washington with Arnold. Yet, this hero was found to be a wolf in sheep's clothing and his name became forever associated with his traitorous deeds.

Real life and fictitious stories often parallel one another. Stories such as Harry Potter, Twilight, Batman and Star Wars, have brought to light a rather challenging and at the same time, disturbing reality – what if the hero is the villain?

It is a reality we face most specifically when we begin to deal with the spiritual realm. So many things sound good and make us feel good. Even in the Church universal we have in the last few decades decided that to talk about...Satan, is taboo. When Paul wrote the Corinthian church, it was this reality he was writing about. There is opposition we face in following Jesus Christ and you may never realize it because Satan is a master of disguise.

Disguising and Lying
It was Paul who highlighted that Satan comes disguised as heroes, even as pastors and clergy, but it was Jesus himself who pointed out where it comes from. It is a core value of evil to lie. In confronting the religious leaders of the Jewish people, Jesus said, '"Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (Joh 8:42-44)

Like those surrounding Harry Potter, so many wanted their world comfortable. Like our day, we don't want to believe there might be true evil. You may not even want to hear me talk about the possibility that there is a true evil one at work in our world in opposition to God. But I've had plenty of things that have over and over again confirmed Satan's work. I have seen it in relationships with friends and marriages. I have seen it in the corporate world and in ministry. But it has been in starting a new church that I have most seen the work of Satan. Whether in people or some in businesses, there have been those who have tried to take advantage and undermine the mission of Crossroads.

Satan does not want people connected to God, following Jesus or becoming his disciples. And as Carlester pointed out to us last week from his experience playing professional football – even within the Church, there are times and people where circumstances appear and people who appear as men of peace.

Ultimately, within society and today, among Christians the evidence is present that we have come to believe that our “self-interest is a virtue.” This may be the greatest lie that Satan, has been able to infiltrate among believers. It sounds good – it makes us feel good but as Dorothy Sayers so distinctly expresses it – “hell is the enjoyment of our own way forever.”

Sometimes the hero is the villain.
If any one of Jesus' followers knew this truth, it would have been Peter. He tried rebuke Jesus. Failed at following Jesus. He even denied knowing Jesus. But this follower, this saint, would also come to die for his belief in Jesus Christ.

He wrote from his own experiences that we should, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (5:8)” In other words, be humble, keep in check your self-interest - Methodist pastor Adam Clarke wrote centuries ago that Peter was saying - “be not overcharged with the concerns of the world.”

Satan doesn't care for you at all. Why does sin never satisfy us? We are never satisfied with our awards are we? Our toys? Our salaries? Because we never satisfy the devil. You and I are only snacks. Satan is into snacking – he is always looking out for his own self-interest. Just as he is never satisfied – sin will never satisfy no matter how good it looks.

But Peter said there is a way to resist the Devil – the villain in a heroes clothing - But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (1Pe 5:8-10)

It isn't in your strength, or your wisdom or your spiritual abilities – but in your faith. Peter doesn't back away from saying it will be hard – our self interest after all isn't a virtue in God's eyes. We find our faith strengthened in knowing we are journeying with others – our bretheren – the Saints – after the way of Jesus.


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