The following is a conversation between a senior demon (SD) and a junior one (JD). The conversation is imaginary but the lessons are real.
JD: SIR, thank you for seeing me at such short notice. I have been trying my best to learn as quickly as I can in my new assignment. The Department of Shortcuts is a busy place; there’s a lot to learn and I am on a steep learning curve.
SD: Well, I am glad we can meet JD. What have you been reading lately?
JD: There’s quite a lot to read. I am trying to understand earthlings and their ways by reading the stuff they produce – in fact, I am overwhelmed and inundated by the massive amount of information.
How does one get through the flood of information in which earthlings seem to be drowning?
SD: That’s the genius of the Serpent Empire. It has been our policy to overwhelm the earthlings’ world with lots of useless information so that they will fail to notice what is important. Get in touch with Section K586C – they will tell you how to easily identify the trash information that they pump daily into the earthling system so that you can focus on the real facts. Now, what is it you really wanted to talk about?
JD: I have been thinking about the work of my department and trying to understand spiritual short cuts and how to use them to frustrate the efforts of the Kingdom. Can you give me a quick tutorial on spiritual short cuts?
SD: So you want a short-cut approach to short cuts? Well, that is funny, but seriously, this is fundamental stuff. The Serpent himself is a master at this and has been using this for a long time. It is a time-tested method. You see, in the Kingdom (as in the real world), real growth takes time. The King has all the time in the world and He takes delight in seeing things grow and mature in the right season. All this is inbuilt in the world He has created. The same principles apply in the realm of the earthlings. The King has promised to save them and has been working at it, bringing them to maturity and perfection through His own process of nurture. It takes years of training (including suffering) for them to look like the King’s Son. That is the King’s ultimate purpose. Our job is to thwart that purpose. That is the one single obsession of the Serpent Empire.
JD: How do spiritual short cuts feature in this scheme of things?
SD: I like your impatience; you have the perfect temperament to work in your department. I must remember to congratulate the chaps in Staff Assignments. Coming back to the matter at hand, you must read up what happened at the first Garden. The Serpent tricked the first earthlings with a spiritual short cut. He urged them to disobey the King by eating the forbidden fruit, promising them that they will be like the King if they did. Of course, he was lying, but the stupid earthlings fell for it, hook, line and sinker.
JD: You make it sound like it is a piece of cake. I mean it sounds so easy.
SD: Well, it is quite easy. Since the First Trick I just described, we have been having a field day. Earthlings seem to have a built-in foolishness and a craving for short cuts. You can offer short cuts to them and they will eat them out of your hand. But the most important kind is the spiritual short cut for it short-circuits the King’s plans.
JD: In what ways, sir?
SD: You must also read up on the Great Temptation – it was an epic encounter between the Serpent and the Lamb (the King’s Son). We all held our breath when it happened. The other side also watched with great interest. The Serpent used all his skills to sell three short cuts to the Lamb. The sad part of the story is that he failed miserably. That is why we don’t talk about it here very much; the Serpent hates to hear about it. But for your job, you need to read about it and learn valuable lessons.
JD: I am listening sir. You have all my attention for this is very interesting indeed.
SD: The first short cut the Serpent offered was to turn stones into bread. The Lamb was hungry from fasting and it must have been a great temptation. But He rejected the diabolical suggestion, quoting from the Book that man does not live by bread alone but by every word from the King’s mouth. Fortunately, earthlings are different and are easy prey to such suggestions. Many of them are driven by their appetites and they have no control over them. Any short cut that promises instant gratification will be readily grabbed by them. You will have a field day twisting their lives around their quest for material comfort and pleasures. Even those who belong to the Kingdom have problems with their appetites. Like the rest, their miserable bodies are their gods. Walk around their markets and watch their media, and notice that we have already infiltrated almost every corner. The Serpent’s sales pitch can be heard everywhere. It is short-cut galore. Only a few who follow the Lamb are more keenly aware of this and prove to be more resistant than we expect.
JD: I guess it is these we must work on more deliberately.
SD: Indeed. The Serpent’s second suggestion was for the Lamb to save the world through a spectacular stunt – without having to go through the dreadful cross. Another brilliant short cut, but alas, the Lamb did not buy it. This is obviously
a stronger temptation – one you can use on those who don’t buy the other short cut. Earthlings don’t like the cross and suffering. Use it to our advantage. We have tricked many of the Kingdom’s evangelists to preach short-cut gospels that promise salvation without suffering, grace without pain, a crown without the cross. We support them by giving them success in terms of numbers and wealth. It is easy to multiply such preachers for they want easy success.
JD: And what about the third short cut?
SD: That is the most sinister and subtle, the last trick in the bag, so to speak. The Serpent offered all that could be seen. He dressed it up with glitter and gold. He appealed to human pride and greed, but there was none in the Lamb. But earthlings are different – they readily believe their eyes. You offer them the world and they will offer their souls as payment. The fact is that they worship themselves, and that is the most subtle short cut there is. Even the best of them can fall for this short cut. So you should sharpen your skills in this area. By the way, notice that the Serpent started with physical hunger and moved to spiritual hunger. He reversed the order of priority. He failed with the Lamb because the Lamb had already begun with the spiritual and had worked out the implications in the social and physical realms. The earthlings, however, begin with the physical and therefore are easy prey. At the Garden, the first short cut was enough to trip them up. Be therefore encouraged. It is usually easy. But be careful of those who are close to the Lamb, for they are more resilient. They are more careful about buying our short cuts to happiness, comfort, salvation and glory.
JD: Thank you sir. I must chew on what you have said.