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Ponderings from the president

September 17, 2010 No Comment

The night of Halloween 2001, the mayor of Inglis, Florida (a town of 1200 people, north of Tampa) decided to take action. The town had been experiencing a tougher-than-normal year with an increase in crime, drug abuse and general lawlessness, especially among its younger citizens. Then to top it all off, in September of that year terrorists took to the air to spread destruction and fear on U.S. soil. The mayor had had enough. She decided to declare their community a “Satan-free zone.”

In part the mayor’s proclamation read: “Be it known that from this day forward that Satan, ruler of darkness, giver of evil, destroyer of what is good and just, is not now, nor ever again will be, a part of this town…. Satan is hereby declared powerless, no longer ruling over, nor influencing, our citizens. In the past, Satan has caused division, animosity, hate, confusion, ungodly acts on our youth, and discord among our friends and loved ones. No longer! As blood-bought children of God, we exercise our authority over the devil in Jesus’ name. By that authority, and through His blessed name, we command all Satanic and demonic forces to cease their activities and depart.”

A local pastor hollowed out four wooden posts, placed at each of the town’s four entrance points. People could insert prayers into the posts to keep the prince of darkness at bay. A copy of the mayor’s proclamation also went into each post.

While many town members expressed support for the proclamation, the reaction of society in general was typical. After an interview with Mayor Carolyn Risher on CNN, editorials abounded in the media, offering reactions from scorn and contempt to laughter and ridicule. The American Civil Liberties Union objected because she had printed the proclamation on official town letterhead, thereby melding church and state. In weeks following the proclamation, the results were not encouraging. There was no measurable decrease in crime, abuse or lawlessness. In fact, some young minions of darkness stole all four of the posts!

The mayor’s solution might have been more effective if her proclamation had been aimed at the individual, and not as a blanket cure for the entire community. Even if Satan could be banished forever, sin would still be present. Because of their sinful nature, Christians as well as unbelievers would face the temptations of their sinful flesh and seduction by a sinful society to lead them astray.

No decree by a politician can banish Satan from our lives or communities. But our faith, as God’s people, assures us that our Saviour has “disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in Him” (Colossians 2:15, RSV). Jesus has won the victory over sin, death and the devil for us! And even though Satan still puts up a fight, we have the strength of the Lord’s armour to resist and ultimately defeat him: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…” (Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV).

As we build our lives employing His armour, we become positive influences in our communities. Satan may still send us temptations and crises. But we can sleep soundly at night having prayed: “Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me” (Luther’s Evening Prayer).
Rev. Thomas Prachar

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