Satan keeps a low profile in the 'burbs where I live. Lets money, malls, and vague malaise do all the work. I don't think he's having any fun here, subsisting rather than fine dining on souls hardly conscious enough spiritually to be capable of interesting sins. (In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis speaks of the devils' disappointment with Graft sauce that's insipid, or with "the lukewarm Casserole of Adulterers . . . who had blundered or trickled into the wrong beds, in automatic response to sexy advertisements, . . . or even because they had nothing else to do.")
In the city Satan is not so much a couch potato. I go there now and then to be reminded there's a war-as on Sunday, March 26, to Philadelphia's Harrowgate Park a few blocks north of infamous Kensington and Allegheny, where the fifth "Rocky" movie was partly shot, and people more often are shot.
It was the third day of a three-day Harrowgate tent revival meeting, and I was bound for worship there when sidetracked by the sights and sounds of street preaching with heart. A man on a box with an amp was bellowing the name of Jesus, and I pulled over by a busted hydrant and got out of the car (locking the door).
While the spokesman continued to speak, I sidled up to one of his companions with the big idea that they could come to Harrowgate and join our love fest.
He asked, "What are they preaching?" I said, "Jesus."
He asked, "What about Jesus?" I said, "Jesus saves."
He asked, "Saves who?" (I was starting to be uncomfortable with the grilling.) I said, "Anyone who repents and believes in Him."
He said, "Wrong. He only came to save the 12 tribes of Israel." He rattled them off: African Americans, Caribbeans, Haitians, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans and Panamanians, Seminole Nations, Native Nations, Argentinians, Mexicans, Colombians, Uruguayans, Chileans, Brazilians.
I asked, "What about white people?" He countered, "Are you white?" (To be sure, I presume, of no diluted Hispanic blood). I said yes.
He said, "You aren't part of the 12 tribes." I asked point-blank, "Are you saying I'm damned because I'm white?" He answered in the affirmative.
I said, "That's not what the Bible says." He was holding a worn and color-coded KJV. "Want me to show you?" I said yes. He turned to Matthew 10:5-6: "These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying, 'Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'"
"Are you a Gentile?" he asked. "Yeah, so are you," I said (not quick enough for a better answer from Romans 15:10-12, and not believing at this point that it would make any difference).
"What color was Jesus?" he unsheathed the next sword. "Not black," I said (and now I knew we were going to quibble about shades). He flipped to Revelation 1:15: "His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace." "What color is brass?" he pressed his case, "especially if it's been put in a furnace?" I admitted it would be dark. He clinched the deal with something about Esau and Jacob and Song of Solomon 1:5: "I am dark, but lovely."
I said, "Let me show you something." (I made a move for his Bible but he wouldn't let me touch it.) I said, "The Great Commission," and he was ready for me. "All the nations" means all places the 12 tribes were scattered and must be ferreted out.
"John 3:16," I said. Blank response from across the chasm. So I summarized, "The world. Anyone who believes." He countered, "Doesn't mean every last one in the world."
I said, "Tell me, what did God make white people for?" He said, "For destruction." I said (feeling a little frightened), "How do you think that makes me feel? Are you OK with that?" "I'm OK with what the Bible says," he said.
I said, "I don't know whether to pray for you or curse you." He said, "We can't be cursed."
I said, "That's not the Jesus I know." He said, "You have no Jesus."
Says him. Even Satan knows that's a lie. And trembles, in the great city of Philadelphia.