Devils May Care

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2:19)

Okay. So the demons have a leg up on us in the terror of God department. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. They haven’t been versed in the God-loves-me-no-matter-what stuff like the rest of us. Those poor demons didn’t get brought up with the gentle pastel illustrations of The Children’s Bible or get to dress up as angels for the Christmas program. (Well, I guess they did get to dress up as angels, but they got kicked out of the show before they had a chance to sing Away in a Manger.) Life as a demon isn’t all fun and games.

It’s strange how something can come across differently to different people. Take coffee, for example. I happen to like it—a lot. There just something about that first cup in the morning that rates it up there with good sex or religion. But I happen to know a few people who hate coffee; they hate the smell of it (even those heavenly fresh-ground beans), hate the look of it, and nearly barf and the mere thought of the taste (which, they say, tastes like mud—to which I say, yes, but good mud). Granted, these coffee-haters are probably dysfunctional in lots of other areas of their lives too (like sex and religion), but that’s not my point here. The point is that the same cup of coffee can represent completely different experiences.

Take rap music as another example. I have often been sitting in my car waiting for the light, minding my own business, when all of a sudden my rearview mirror begins to shiver and the air pressure in my car begins to vacillate in time with a very audible and nauseating thump thump thump. I discover that the source of this sonic salvo is some car next to me. Inside, nodding his head like a dashboard bobble and mouthing words I can’t quite pick out, hunches a proto-humanoid with a driver’s license. I want to kill him, not so much for invading my personal space with the stupidest phenomenon of modern “musical” history, but for actually appearing to like that crap. I’m comforted with the thought that I’m not likely to run into this guy at the library.

So it seems that when we say that we and the demons both “believe” in God we’re talking about two entirely different things. According to James, believing there is one God is nothing to brag about. It’s like believing the sun will come up in the morning. Big honking deal. That kind of faith is a technicality served over cold oatmeal with a side order of lukewarm cottage cheese. (I have no idea what that means; it just came out like that.) James seem to think that all this “I believe in God” crapola is—well, so much crapola and weighs in at about .314 on the cosmic Richter scale. It means zippo as far as the grand scheme goes. That kind of “belief” is a jar full of stale air. It’s a pocket full of lint. It’s an expired coupon. It’s an empty roll of toilet paper.

The demons, however, aren’t fooled. (They’re screwed, but that’s different.) They know about the Dude they believe in. Unlike the lame faith of pansy believers who are mostly clueless, demon faith has one big thing going for it: PANIC. As far as I can tell, panic may be the most appropriate response to whom God actually is. Panic works well when the God you’re referring to is actually GOD and not some Beanie Baby deity with Bambi eyes that is all new materials, washable in warm water, tumble dry low heat. (Another weird one.) According to James, the demons get it and we air-headed Christians don’t. Forget this “They will know we are Christians by our love” tripe. James seems to think the demons have something to teach us: they will know we are believers by our PANIC.

Get with the freaking program.

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