If you didn't know, this past week was my first full week of teaching; Monday through Friday spent with the funniest, most inquisitive group of sixth through 8th graders you've ever met. They are going to be a joy to educate and learn from this year! (You can read my first week reflection here.)
One student asked me this thought provoking question, after sitting and thinking for moment:
"We're Christians, right? And because we're Christians we're not supposed to call people bad names, right? So... is it okay if we call the Devil bad names?"
What a question...
I would like to preface my answer by saying that in retrospect, this would have been a good question to send the student home with. Our school is Catholic but not all of our students are (including my questioner). But I cannot resist a good question, so after a little thought, this is what I told the student...
"The Devil is corporal, real being, just like God. But the Devil's goal is to interfere with our life and relationship with God as much as possible. All Satan wants is to be invited in to get in between us and our God. So, I don't think it's a good idea to tempt the Devil. It's probably best to not address him at all."
The Evil One is crafty. Just look at Genesis, where he prays on Adam and Eve's pride and love for one another. He takes our best pieces and uses them against, slowly and surely. He took a good piece of my student, someone who wants to condemn Satan and all his evil promises, and use it as a way into his little life.
But we don't have to call the Devil names to address him. We invite him into our lives when we willfully choose to do anything counter to the life Christ has called us to leave. Trashy TV, crude music, gossip with coworkers... those small sins build up making it easier and easier the Evil One to interfere. One more drink, snoozing for an extra hour on Sunday. It's the little things that create space for temptation and failure to resist.
Sometimes we forget that the Devil isn't just another boogieman. The Devil is a real, corporal being who wants to tempt us away from our loving God each and every day. Which is why we shouldn't call him names. He wrecks enough havoc on our lives without our taunting. The only thing we need to be saying to him is "not today."
Not today Satan. Not today.