hile walking along 42nd street in New York City, a preacher saw a well-dressed man sitting on the sidewalk, face buried in his hands. He thought the poor fellow had slipped, fallen, and hurt himself, so he quickly walked over to help him.
As the preacher came closer, he thought he recognized the man. When he got to where the man sat, he realized he did know him. It was the devil himself.
The preacher said, “Devil, what are you doing, sitting here like this? You’re always busy breaking up marriages, corrupting governments, committing random acts of evil.”
To this the devil replied with a sigh, “Hardly anyone is resisting me these days. They’ve left me nothing to do; everything’s going my way.”
Everything seems to be going the devil’s way when we consider the news of the past 12 months here in the United States. During the hurricane season—June to November—tornadoes and hurricanes took more than 330 lives, leveled towns, and cost billions of dollars in property damage. Fifty percent of marriages, both in the church and the world, ended in divorce, while 34 percent of unwed teens had at least one pregnancy before turning 20. Untold numbers of abortions were performed, as our nation ranked second behind Russia in this killing field. Horrific mass murders occurred in a Colorado theater (July), at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin (August), at a manufacturing plant in Minnesota (September), and in the unthinkable nightmare in Newtown, Connecticut (December); not to mention more than 500 killed in Chicago, mostly teens, in this diabolical culture of violence.*
Everything is going Satan’s way, or so it seems.
Are we going to sit in our comfortable congregations this year and sing, “The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him”? Or are we going to stand up for Jesus as soldiers of the cross and cry out against the consuming evil and change the world? We have the authority of God embodied in the divine commission of Matthew 28:19, 20.
This commission is also a co-mission, a partnership with Jesus in His mission to relentlessly seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). It is a co-mission that calls us to depend on Jesus to overcome evil with good as we make disciples of all people in our spheres of influence.
If we accept this co-mission, we must be willing to serve God regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We must determine to finish what we start as ambassadors of Christ through whom He makes His appeal to the world (2 Cor. 5:20). If others try to persuade us that this co-mission is impossible, we must trust God, knowing that with Him all things are possible. If we feel as though our sacrifice isn’t producing the promised results and we’re getting bogged down in a blizzard of despair, we must dig deeper into the Word, such as Revelation 12:10-17.
There we discover that we can and will overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb, by the testimony of Scripture, by keeping the commandments of God, and by holding to the testimony of Jesus.
Remember, sometimes God allows His anointed ambassadors to share in Christ’s suffering (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Further, what Jesus said to Peter, He says to those of us who are devoted to Him: “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat,” but I am praying for you, “that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31, 32).
For a time Satan appears to win. That sifting rid Peter of his least-attractive qualities, such as a blustery self-confidence, a chip on his shoulder, and a propensity to violence.
Our time has come to be world-changers. If we encounter opposition, ridicule, or rejection, we shouldn’t let them draw us off course. We must testify, knowing that as Jesus prayed for Peter, He is now at the right hand of God interceding for us. Let’s testify, not under duress, but joyfully, according to the will of God; not for sordid gain, but with eagerness, for it is written: “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).
* Statistics have been taken from a variety of Internet sites.
Hyveth Williams teaches homiletics at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. This article was pulbished on February 21, 2013.