Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Self Created Demons

The minute that you decide your demons are out of your control then transformation will never be harder to experience.

As Christians, we often hear one another talking about this spiritual battle between good and evil. More often than not that battle is articulated as something that we are not controlling. "This spiritual warfare is invading my life and I don't know why God is exposing me to this horror."

If we are remembering our filters of living, the window of experience from which I perceive all things and take in information, then my filter says something else.

I don't think that war is outside of us nor do I think that war is happening inside of us. I just don't believe there is a great force beating anyone down without their permission. I do understand that people have chemical disorders that give birth to physical manifestations of genetic tendencies like schizophrenia, manic depression, bi-polar disorder. I studied psychology and I do believe in those things. What I don't believe in is the repeated surrender to your own demons and then laying the blame on an external demon that is controlling you.

If Satan has the power to use us like puppets and turn us into self-resigning sinners then the good news of the Gospel doesn't have any stock in a world full of temptation.

From my earthly experience, I do struggle with many demons and the truth is that I have created most of them. Even down to strange OCD tendencies, I made them up and they give me some comfort somehow. I choose them and created them and then feed them. It would be easy to write a long essay about how I have felt tempted to leap from trusting in God during these very busy months of change, but I know that is something that I struggle with. If I am struggling with it then it is something that I can control. The best part is that I can invite God into that struggle and seek His almighty guidance to aid me in overcoming it.

When it comes to demons, I can't jump on the bandwagons of spiritual warfare. Yes, it is spiritual and yes, it has every sensation of warfare in it but what I want to express today is that it is not out of our control. If you want to make Satan a living being in your mind then go for it, but please don't give him/it so much life that you let him live in you. Satan to me, is the temptation, the inclination, the human struggle that creeps into your practice of living into the Christian life. That little bit of selfish gain, that harsh word when you are tired, that rage that you give in to occasionally, one more drink even though you are already drunk, are the creeping temptations that slip into your daily practice. These demons; the gambling, the continual infatuation with porn, the permission to over eat all the time are all created by you, by me.

We give ourselves permission to indulge in these created experiences. We make up a lie, a false sense of comfort or deserving around these practices and it doesn't take long before they become habitual. In fact, your brain will form around daily practices until they become habits, behaviors. This is why they are so hard to break. It isn't a demon knocking you down from the outside, it is your own brain molded to your own will. But guess what, you can change it. You can control it.

When I think about the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in each of us I understand that spirit in many different forms. One way that I believe God has provided us with this advocate friend is through our own DNA. We are designed to be able to adapt and change. It is really hard to change a behavior. First you have to amend a daily practice. Quit smoking, quit eating sugar, quit drinking, quit looking at porn, quit giving up when things get rough. Your physical and emotional body goes through withdrawal and sometimes there is even some sort of pain but not so much time (around 2 weeks) it starts to lift. Your mindset changes as your physical practices change. Over time, your brain will change too and new cells will create new routes in your brain that feed your new behaviors that provide stability for your new self and new practice.

You see, we are made in God's own image. We are resurrection people. Just like our father we create good and bad and name it thus. Just like our father we die in bloody sacrifice to rid our own heart's of sin that separates us from his glory. Just like our father we experience the pain of that transformation and the fulfilling beauty of that new life.

Jesus told his Disciples (us!) that if we believe then we will do even greater things than he did. All we have to do is ask it in his name and it will be done. The added bonus to this beautiful understanding is that truly, when you go about the challenge of reclamation and destruction of your daily demons, if you ask for help from the one who loves us most you will receive it. All things are possible with God's love. 

You are only trapped if you want to be. The Good News is that you can choose your experience of this life and God is with you on the whole journey and you have no control over that.