Considered – one of – most influential writers of the 20th century.
Born late 19th century.
At 15, he loses his faith and pronounces his commitment to atheism and the occult.
B/C of that influence, He eventually returns to Christianity.
- Chronicles of Narnia – Lion, Witch, wardrobe,
- Mere Christianity
The Screwtape Letters
Telling of the story of a human life. Told from the view point of a demon bent on destroying the humans faith.
“The enemy will not see you vanish into God’s company without an effort to reclaim you.” (C.S. Lewis)
Also, of course, not everyone believes in a literal satan & demons. I personally do. But don’t get caught up on that. As you’ll see, that’s not actually what the book is about. – Traps that we so easily fall into.
For us, it basically serves as a fun way to talk about some issues that seem to trip up a lot of Christians.
All you need to know is 3 characters.
The uncle – Senior demon. – Highly experienced and extremely successful demon. – The author of all the letters. ‘Our father below’ – Satan. ‘Our enemy above’ – God.
Screwtapes nephew. – Demon who’s new to the job and doesn’t really know how to tempt his human yet.
3. The Patient
The recently converted human who is the subject of the book. Wormwood (the nephew) is assigned the patient to reclaim back from the camp of the enemy (God).
Thus far: Patient:
We’ve followed patient:
- Becomes a Christian
- Goes to Church
- Goes to War
This week: The Patient Falls in Love.
So! Your man is in love—and in the worst kind he could possibly have fallen into. I have looked up this girl’s file and am horrified at what I find.
Not only a Christian, but a vile, sneaking, simpering, demure, monosyllabic, mouse-like, watery, insignificant, virginal, bread-and-butter miss. The little brute. She makes me vomit.
It drives me mad, the way the world has worsened. We’d have had her in the arena in the old days. (Cesar Nero)
Screwtape always has a plan. And this week it’s about sowing seeds.
Courtship is the best time for sowing seeds that will grow up ten years later into domestric hatred.
He talks about these seeds – we’re gonna talk about 1 of them tonight.
I do need to break a little bit of troubling news to you. So far we have seen screwtape as a smart, level headed, patient uncle. But I need to let you know that lately he’s been acting a little… different. And this past week he’s gone through a bit of a change…And he’s beginning to sign his letters in some unusual ways.
He’s getting a little frustrated, what he’s saying is not as important as the changes he’s going through.
So screwtape in his anger has inadvertantly transformed into a large centepede.
Dictates the rest of his letter through his secretary & signs it: “I am growing even more anxious to see you, to unite you to myself in an indissoluble embrace.”
Ok, let’s talk about relationships.
Very different direction for us.
I talk about relationships maybe once a year. Totally different messages than any other, so don’t let it throw you.
- If you’re dating or married – right up your alley.
- If you’re single – take some notes and read them later.
Avoid some of the stupidities that make our married lives so exciting.
Also, I know I talk to a lot of you about your relationships, so please know – All similarities to my points and your specific situation is purely coincidental.
This is a good time to be open, let’s be able to laugh at ourselves. I’ll share some stories about me and Jordan. None of have this all figured out.
Courtship is the best time for sowing seeds that will grow up ten years later into domestic hatred.
Seed 1 – Resentment
I describe resentment as ‘non-specific hostility’. It’s where nothings wrong, but something’s still a little wrong, just humming along in the background.
Good and evil side to it.
That on one hand, it’s a reflection of the love and charity that we read so much about in the bible.
And on the other hand, people end up using their own unselfishness as a reason to resent the other selfish person.
Teach them both to sacrifice. Not so that other might be happy, but so that they can feel that they are the better person.
To illustrate : ‘Generous Conflict Illusion’
And this is where you end up fighting for the other persons side out of total stubbornness.
- Person 1 – Suggests they go drink their tea in the garden.
- Person 2 – Makes it clear they’d rather not, but is prepared to do it out of ‘unselfishness’.
- Person 1 – Immedately withdraws the proposal, obviously out of unselfishness, but really because they don’t want to be the subject of the other persons petty sacrifices.
- Person 2 – Insists on drinking tea in the garden. “You wanna drink tea in the garden! Let’s do it then!”
- Person 1 – “Geez, I just thought it would be fun! Where is this attitude coming from?! “
- Person 2 – “I’m saying let’s do it! What do you want from me?!”
- Person 1 – “I want you to quit being such a horrible disgusting person.”
Before you know it, one person is yelling ‘Fine, we won’t have tea at all!’ Bitter resentment results on both sides. Each side manages to feel blameless and the victim of the other person and their crazy temper.
Behind the scenes:
Both people are being ‘unselfish’ when it comes to the tea, but selfish in their relationship.
This argument: Not about tea. Never was. The argument is about both sides pointing out the others selfishness.
If you really wanted to be unselfish in this situation, what you would do is stop pointing out the other person’s issue.
Me /Jordan – Where to eat Me and Jordan when we were dating early on, we always had a hard time deciding where to eat. – Me: Where do you wanna eat? Jordan: I don’t know, what do you want to eat? Me: Are we really gonna do this? You always say you don’t know what you wanna eat, but then you don’t like what I suggest! A fight ensues. And I feel like what the ‘unselfish’ thing would have been is just to suggest another place and not point out something I think is a problem.
Always making – other – bad guy – selfish.
Sometimes: True unselfishness involves keeping your mouth shut and giving the other person some dignity.
Me and Jordan – I am a very good arguer. It’s one of the things that makes me a decent communicator.
But I’ve learned (or am learning), that if I use my arguing abilities to come against Jordan, then I’m doing something that’s very destructive.
You can either practice being right, or you can practice being kind.
I see these couple where if one of them says ‘So this past saturday we went to the balloon fiesta.” – “It wasn’t saturday, it was friday!”
Uhhh… Chill out. – Let someone say the wrong date!
If I said the wrong date, you’d just let me say it.
Me and Jordan. – Wrong Age – Me and Jordan – fought back in the day. Because I’m horrible at dates and birthday, and remembering things. I’m horrible at all that. So early on, we fought because when I’d be wrong, she’d correct me and I’d feel embarrassed. But we’ve grown, so now if I say the wrong date, she just let’s me say it. I’ll say ‘My sister is 34’. She won’t say ‘No, she’s 35!!!’ That’s rookie. That’s amateur.
Some of us need to make this confession: I like winning more than being nice. Repent of that.
Always pointing out your ‘rightness’ and their ‘wrongness’ makes you both resent each other.
Better way: Support each other.
Ask yourself “If I wasn’t married to this person, but instead it was my job so support this person, what would I do?” And then do that! And I bet, criticizing and correcting wouldn’t be on your list.
Always strive to be unselfish, but not in a loud and now I rub it in your face kinda way. No, be unselfish in being the first to forgive, the first to overlook an issue, the first to give the other person some slack when they do something stupid.
Don’t let those little seeds on resentment creep in.
How do guard against resentment.
1. Fight correctly.
All couples argue. All couples have disagreements.
But there’s a way to do it that doesn’t WOUND the other person. Most would agree that’s how they WANT to fight, but when the emotions come, everything changes.
If you become a totally different person when you’re mad, you’re playing a very dangerous game.
Snow – Car When I was in that car accident and we started going sideways on the snow. Didn’t matter intentions w/no control.
Fruit of the spirit
I love that the fruits of the spirit starts with Love, and END in self-control.
Self-control is what makes all the other christian disciplines possible.
Self Control: “the ability to exercise restraint or control over one’s feelings, emotions, & reactions”
Self-Control is the freedom to choose.
It makes no difference who you wanna be if you don’t have self-control.
Find a way to be someone you respect even when you’re having strong feelings.
Some people get SO ANGRY that they lose control. – Always costs you.
There is always a cost to anger.
See if you identify with any of these scriptures:
“Hot tempers cause arguments.” (Proverbs 15:18)
“Anger causes mistakes.” (Proverbs 14:29)
“A hot-tempered man starts fights and gets into all kinds of trouble.” (Proverbs 29:22)
“The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left.” (Proverbs 11:29)
You always lose when you lose your temper.
- Respect of friends & family
- Your Job
- Your relationship
We often times use anger in order to get people to do something. WHY? B/C it works! At least in the shortterm. What you don’t see is the resentment is causes in the long term.
If you can’t be calm, pause and come back later.
Me and Jordan do this often.
Find a way to disagree with a level head.
There is NO excuse to scream, and cuss, and call names.
Every time you do that, you’re causing wounds that you’re gonna have to come back later and fix.
2. Secretly pray for your partner.
I know this sounds obvious, but it’s super powerful.
One of the primary purposes of prayer is to be ‘properly formed’. To BECOME the right thing. So when you pray for a spouse, God can use that time to form you. B/C it forces that selfish part of you to shut up.
Specifically pray something selfless. Don’t just pray for your relationship, pray that God will bring them peace and happiness, that God will open the right doors for them, that they’ll find hobbies they love, and their friendships will be strengthened.
Pray selfless prayers. And I said ‘secretly’ on purpose. B/C this is the kind of stuff that people use against each other when they’re fighting! Don’t go brag about it. No, be someone who secretly prays for your spouse. It will help them, but will also help you.
3. Have a short memory.
In the bible, there’s this idea about God throwinng our sins into the sea of forgetfulness.
It happened, it’s over, and he won’t bring it up anymore.
“A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers” – Mark Twain
There has to be a clean slate in a marriage. Where something happens and then it goes away. And we forget about it.
But I see in dysfunctional relationships where people ‘forgive but never forget’ and after 10 years, it’s this huge pile of resentment that’s never been dealt with.
They’re not still fighting, but just passively in the background, there’s kinda ‘keeping score’.
And every fight just reactivates all this dormant crap in our hearts, and every fight is a huge one.
So instead of it being about ‘Should we go to a movie or not?’ it’s about ‘We never do things that I like.’
Have your own mini-sea of forgetfulness.
This is over, and I won’t bring it up. And I won’t hold it against the other person. I won’t bring that baggage into our future. This is a clean slate.
Do what you need to do to pull up those roots.
1. Fight Correctly
You can argue without wounding each other.
Don’t allow a culture in your marriage where you’re both just working to wound the other person with your words. That won’t end well.
Here’s the better way: In conflict, be the first one to lay down your sword.
2. Secretly pray for your partner
This will not only help them, it will make you a better person.
3. Have a short memory.
Let the other person have a do over. Don’t carry 10 pounds of baggage everywhere you go.
Come to a relationship to be a giver, not a taker.
If you both come to the relationship to ‘take’ you will soon find your relationship has become a bank with no money in it.
But it’s just like the kingdom of God. When you seek to care for the other person, you find yourself cared for.
As we close, we’ll take communion as we always do.
I love that the bible compares our love for each other with Christs love for the church.
He’s the example:
- We receive forgiveness from him and he teaches us how to forgive each other.
- We receive his sacrifice for us and he teaches us how to sacrifice for each other.
Tonight: Invites us to his table – eat and drink that I might abide in you and you in me.
Jesus invited each and every one of us, doesn’t matter who we are. Take, eat.
(Apostles Creed) And confess the creed that the church has been confessing for nearly 2000 years.