[This is fictional, based on truth. I am not prone to have long conversations with the enemy.]
I was talking to the devil the other day. I said, “So, the Lord is doing great things in our congregation.” To which he responded, “Yes, but it won’t last if I can help it.”
I felt a cold wave of fear come over me. “How do you plan to stop it?” I asked.
“Its quite simple” he said. “Passover’s just around the corner—just look at what I did during the Exodus to turn people against Moses? First, I started with fear. Sure things were fine when they left Egypt, but look what happened when they saw an Army coming after them. I will fill your congregation with fear just like I did back then. I will tell them that they were better off before. And then I will tell them that this all the fault of Moses… or in your congregation the leadership!”
And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” (Number 12:10-12)
“Next I will try and stir up division amongst the elders. I will plant seeds of judgment in their minds against each other. Remember when Aaron and Miriam judged their brother Moses even after God has used him so powerfully?”
Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” (Numbers 12:1-2)
“And they were in the same family! Look how I stirred up trouble.
“If that doesn’t work. I will plant seeds of distrust in the other leaders. Remember the story of Korah? He spoke against Moses and turned many people against him.”
Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” (Number 16:1-3)
“If they resist that I will seek to use pride like I did with the disciples. In fact, most of the time, I don’t even need to get involved. I was hardly involved when Jacob [i] and John began to think of themselves as better than the others.”
Then Jacob and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.” (Mark 10:35-37)
“I remember thinking: ‘These are the guys he is going to use the spread His message?”
I boldly interjected, “Well He did! They grew and matured and they took the Gospel all over the world. They became humble men and raised up humble leaders to shepherd God’s flock.”
He became angry and hissed, “Yes they did, but I can give you thousands of success stories where I used jealousy, pride, miscommunications and gossip to destroy congregations. I would tell assistant leaders, ‘You should be in charge! The senior leader doesn’t appreciate you. You should have your own congregation.’
And after I prepared them by forming a stronghold of pride in their minds—with their permission—I would tell them, ‘In fact, you should lead this congregation or start a new one down the road. I am sure there are plenty of people who would follow you if you started a new congregation. Maybe they would all leave with you.’ It was so easy to deceive them, given their hunger for promotion and popularity.
“I would do everything I could to keep the foolish leader from understanding how devastating and divisive a split would be. Families would be separated and friendships would be destroyed, but I would fill his mind with illusions of grandeur. It really has been so easy at times. I was even able to separate Barnabas and Saul!
“Of course, I must admit there have been other cases where no matter how hard I tried, I could not sow division. In these congregations there was always a strong eldership team who loved and respected each other. Each of them would function in their own gifting without being jealous each other. They would often begin their meeting with intense prayer. Oh, how I hated that and them!
“But what was worse was that the younger leaders, who are always easier to distract with a jealousy or pride, would actually copy the example of love and mutual respect. And even if I could get a foothold in one of the younger leaders, these elders would deal them with such humility and tenderness, that often my plans to turn small rumbles into earthquakes were foiled.
“When I could really stir someone up against the leadership, these elders were so united that those who would seek to usurp would just end up leaving—or God forbid—learning their lesson! Fortunately, those in the former group, I could always send somewhere else to cause trouble.
“Mark my words,” he declared, ”I will do everything in my power to cause division, stir up jealousy and accuse the brethren through judgments. In time, we will see if you can stand or not.” And he left…
Under my breath I said, “By the grace of God.”
[i] The man we commonly refer to English as James, is actually Jacob. It is time to start calling him by his real name!