This is an article that was published in Tabletalk magazine – obviously shamelessly borrowing from CS Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. What might a senior devil advise a junior one about discouraging mission?!
My Dear Diabolos,
It is clear that you have not quite got the hang of this temptation thing. Take the matter of what the Enemy calls ‘Mission’. We understand what this is – to bring the dreadful news of His Son with all the spiritual weapons that we find so appalling. However you are making a major error when you try to take all thoughts of Mission out of the mind of your client. That is too obvious a tactic and one that often just does not work. Perhaps you will allow a more senior expert to give you some instruction.
Encourage your client to think about Mission. Allow just enough guilt and awareness that it is what he is supposed to be doing and then let him assuage his conscience by giving some money, attending a few ‘missionary’ meetings, and in general feeling ‘positive’ about mission ‘over there’. These last two words are the key. Let your client always have in his mind the impression that mission is something that occurs in a faraway land, that is always done by superheroes, and that it is usually tied up with circumstances that are well outside his own personal experience – pictures of emaciated children in a third world country are always good both for a guilt trip and taking his mind of the real Mission. Let him think that giving a few dollars more is real ‘Mission’.
Let me give you one true example of how this ‘over there’ mentality works beautifully in our favour. There is a large city church which regularly gave to mission in China. When the new minister arrived he noticed that despite there being tens of thousands of Chinese in the city, there were none in the Church. He ‘borrowed’ some Chinese from a local evangelical seminary to welcome people. As a result of this twisted tactic Chinese people started coming to the Church (and you know how easy it is for them to turn from Our Father – after all they have had years of ignorance). But there were complaints from those who are supposed to be the Enemy’s servants. They were happy to send money and people to ‘convert’ the Chinese ‘over there’, but they were not prepared to have the Chinese in ‘their’ Church. Wonderful!
My dear Diabolos, this is what you must aim for. Let your client always see mission as something ‘over there’ and he will never consider how he is supposed to do mission wherever he is. For the Enemy, there is no ‘over there’. He thinks it is all His, and that it all needs Him. As long as we can convince his servants that where they are is not the needy place, we need not fear,
Yours in Bad Faith,