I was putting my girls to bed the other night when Abby (age 5) asked, “Is the Devil real?”
I gave my lawyer answer and tried to punt. After all, what parent wants to be up with her kids before bed (they're already afraid of the dark) talking about the Devil.
“We don’t need to worry about the Devil, sweetie.”
She wasn’t satisfied.
If you’re reading this, chances are you may not have resolved the question in your own mind. Most Americans don’t believe in the Devil. And this includes many Christians.
In a 2009 Study of the Barna Group, four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.
Let’s face it, believing in the Devil in our culture is kind of like believing in the Easter Bunny. (My kids are scared of him, too!) After all, what parent wants to tell her child that an evil, powerful being seeks to destroy her faith and ultimately her soul? Not me.
It would have been much easier to say, “No honey, he’s not real. Just go to sleep.”
But being a parent isn’t about taking the easy way out.
Given that I personally believe the Devil is real (no, I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny), I couldn’t continue to dodge the bullet. So I answered Abby very matter of fact, the best way I knew how.
“Yes, the Devil is real. He hates God and wants you to hate God too. But God is stronger.”
You know the next set of questions.
“Where does he live? Can he get me? Where is he right now?”
Great, I thought to myself. This is going to be a fun night of sleep.
“I really don’t know where he lives. I do know that God is stronger. God can beat him up. So, if I follow God I don’t have to worry about the Devil hurting me. He can never ever take my soul. God protects us.”
Abby seemed satisfied as she blurted out in her favorite condescending tone:
“The Devil is dumb and stupid. And I hate him! If I saw him, I’d punch him in the face!”
She slept all night without disturbing mom.