the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
The other day my youngest daughter asked me why God had not "gotten rid of Satan a long time ago?" I answered her question with a question. I asked her to name her favorite story and to tell me who the villain was in that particular tale. She did so and I continued with another question; "if there were no villain do you think there would be a story?" She pondered that for a moment and then said with a smile, "of course not – it would be a boring if there was no villain."
So it is with the grand adventure God has invited his people to participate in. No doubt, God could have "gotten rid of Satan a long time ago" but what kind of story would this reality be without a villain? Now, I realize that some people may take offense to this idea because in their mind it suggests God is nothing more than a teller of tales with no concern for his creation. But this is not the case. The fact is, God is the sovereign Lord of the universe and all things are under his control. There are reasons he didn't get rid of Satan a long time ago and one reason is that he wants our participation in the grand adventure to be substantial rather than syrupy.
God brought everything into being for his own purpose and glory. It is not as if he needed us for he enjoys fellowship from all eternity in the Trinity. Instead, God created this universe and placed us on this earth as an act of grace. Moreover, God determined from the beginning of time that he would draw from humanity a bride for the eternal son. This process unfolds like an epic tale of romance. And, as everyone knows, a story without a villain is not much of a story at all. Thus, God is writing a tale in which the beautiful Princess is rescued from the savage Dragon by the heroic Prince. Moreover, in his sovereign grace God has determined to allow us to play a starring role in his cosmic drama.
The difference between this grand adventure and a best-selling novel is the life and death stakes written into God's story. To suggest God allowed Satan to live so that his cosmic drama would have a villain is not to say the devil is a paper tiger. No, the accuser and his minions are real and the damage they have done throughout history - and continue to do - is tremendous. At the same time, the salvation brought by the heroic Prince (Jesus) is real and comprehensive. Jesus is the only one who can overcome the villain and it is in his strength that we are able to put the bad guy to flight.
It has been said that there are no new plot lines just new takes on the same old story. This should be expected since all things originate with God including a good story. Thus, novelists find variety not in creating an entirely new plot but in their interpretation of the storyline. This is how it is in "real life" as well. The human experience is very much the same throughout history and across cultures. The seemingly infinite variety we see in life comes into being as each individual interprets the role they have been given in the cosmic drama.
More on this next week.