The deal with the Devil

I once had a conversation about why an all-powerful, benevolent God would allow for the existence of the Devil – and it was interesting, so I thought I’d share.  Though that was years ago, the essence of that conversation remains with me.  So this post is not a properly quoted and cited paper, but a story blurred by years, my own imperfect memory, and my penchant for theatrics.  I beg your indulgence.

“Why does the Devil exist if God is so benevolent and powerful?

I saw a movie once called ‘Constantine’ that starred Keanu Reeves.  And I wouldn’t call it a great movie, but I enjoyed it.  But there’s a quote in that film that really got me thinking.

‘What if I told you that God and the Devil made a wager, a kind of standing bet for the souls of all mankind?’

Now, admittedly, this is a strange thing to find inspiring, but I’m not the type to ignore good advice – not even if it comes from an unusual source.  Because what if God and the Devil made a bet?  Why in the world would they do that?

As the story goes, the Devil fell from grace because he rebelled against God.  The story of why changes depending on your source, so I’ll decline to make any assertions there.  Ultimately, it does not matter.  The Devil fell, and opposed God.  And that is his nature.

But what of the nature of God?  If he is benevolent, why does he allow someone as wicked as the Devil to prey upon mankind?  This is even more confusing since God’s all-powerful nature should allow him to easily best the Devil.  Yet, he remains.

In the film, the characters assert or make the assumption that God and the Devil are engaged in a war, and that whomever gathers the most souls will win.  To that end, the Devil tempts people and God tries to save them.  Mankind is in the middle, both the victims of this war and the trophy.

But what if it is not that simple?

God is supposed to be benevolent – or all-good, to follow the ‘all-something’ descriptions of Him.  He is trying to save everyone.  That is why most people wonder why he does not simply smite the Devil and destroy him forever.  But to that line of thinking, I ask this question:

Whom is in greater need of saving than the Devil himself?

The Devil was once one of God’s most treasured angels.  But even though he fell, God’s own son tells the story of the prodigal son:  the story of a wayward son who returns home after selfish choices lead him to misfortune.  Yet that son is welcomed home with celebration, for his father is simply happy to see his son alive again.

Is the bet between God and the Devil not about who wins mankind, but an attempt by a father to bring his most wayward son back into the fold?

Because of that, it may seem like we are mere pawns in this game.  But I disagree.  We are not victims caught in the crossfire.  We are not the chips on the table.  We may be pieces on the board, but remember the pawn is far more powerful than it appears.  It can become any piece in time.  And so are we, in my opinion.

I think we are paladins, and we fight to save the world.  But the world is not merely buildings and roads.  It is not just trees and grass and flowers.  It is countries and cultures.  It is people.  And for every soul we save, we keep one more star in the sky from falling.

But is not the Morning Star the greatest star of them all?  But who mourns its fall?  Who would try to hang it back up in the sky, against all odds?  Who would forgive all grievances and welcome even the Devil back home?

A father would.  For the prodigal son – oh yes, a Father would.”