The Noon Day Devil!

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

The noon day devil of the Christian life is the temptation to lose the inner self while preserving the shell of edifying behaviour. Suddenly I discover that I am ministering to AIDS victims to enhance my resume. I find I renounced ice cream for Lent to lose five excess pounds. I drop hints about the absolute priority of meditation and contemplation to create the impression that I am a man of prayer. At some unremembered moment I have lost the connection between internal purity of heart and external works of piety. In the most humiliating sense of the word, I have become a legalist. I have fallen victim to what T. S. Elliot calls the greatest sin: to do the right thing for the wrong reason. “Beware of the Scribes…who devour widows houses and for a pretence make long prayers” (Mark 12:38, 40). Jesus did not have a naive outlook on prayer. He knew it could be counterfeited by spiritual narcissism, hypocrisy, wordiness, and sensationalism. The noon day devil is not intimidated by the boundaries of time.

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