The Devil was happy he had taken the Dale Carnegie course on How to Win Friends and Influence People and thanks to the sophomore-level marketing class he audited at the local community college, he had found the perfect way to repackage his offers.
It was all in the presentation. One must emphasize customer need above all else. Even if humans did pray, “Lead me not into temptation” it was the Devil’s opinion most of them could find it on their own anyway. But, thanks to the community college, “opportunity” was a far better word.
Oh, before this story goes further, the Devil did not in fact think of himself as a devil, even less as “the devil.” Nor did he appreciate being called “the prince of demons.” Neither was part of his self-image nor was it in his job description. He was Lucifer. He brought to light the depths of the human heart.
But given his work, most of his friends called him Satan. Friends being friends, he put up with it.
“Satan,” actually, was more a job title than a name, he’d point out. It meant he was an “accuser,” like a “prosecutor.” Specifically, he was God’s chief prosecutor, God’s Satan. That was his job. He pursued it zealously, worked hard at it, regardless of where an investigation led. He played no favorites and he was absolutely incorruptible.
He would concede that snake suit was stupid. That set off all sorts of bad associations. But live and learn, you know. Still, God wanted to know if a subject could change sides. That’s all God wanted to know.
He scrupulously followed God’s rules for all his prosecutorial investigations. There were limits he could not exceed and lines he could not cross, and he never did. He didn’t keep score on who did or did not switch sides; that was all in the dossier that God kept.
But a couple clear failures did rankle.
That stubborn old man, for one; trussed up like a desiccated buzzard and he still wouldn’t budge from God.
The other was in Galilee, in that desert of stones. He exhausted his entire repertoire of scripture only to have the Galilean spout an opposing quote. What was the point of having inerrant scriptures if scripture could be countered by more scripture? What a waste of time.
Thanks to Koine Greek, though, the tenses of time were a little elastic; time could be bent. As in: He had tempted the Galilean; he was tempting the Galilean; he will tempt the Galilean, all at once. Physics proved it; he read it in Nature.
Satan could get a do-over and thanks to new marketing, he knew just what to do this time.
“You again?” the Galilean sniffed. “I’ve been fed and watered by angels; you got nothing.”
The Galilean sighed. How many times had he heard that? “It’s not in scripture,” he corrected. “It’s just something of an Arab saying, Trust in God but tie your camel.”
“Nevermind; I’m here for something else, anyway.”
“Okay. Whatcha got?” asked the Galilean.
“Here’s the thing,” Satan began. “I know we got off on the wrong foot, and I’m sorry about that; my fault entirely and I’d like to make it up to you. I like you, personally. I don’t see us as opponents. We’re both just trying to do what God wants, that’s the important thing. We are friendly competitors working in the same firm.”
The Galilean seemed intrigued so Satan plunged on.
“I believe we could help each other. Whatever God said you had to do – and frankly that’s always been a little murky to me – I want to help. Two reasons: first, you can do a job better if we cooperate; second, it’ll be a star on my wall plaque for having suggested it. Play this right, both of us could both end up in better places.”
“Go on, go on,” the Galilean urged. “I’m listening.”
“So I think we were both looking at things wrong. I know I said you could have all that stuff if you ‘worshiped’ me. I’m sorry; I apologize. I realize now if you had taken the deal, it would have been for yourself, not for the people God wants you to help – and helping people is what you’re all about, amirite or amirite?”
“So why not think of these things I offered as a chance to relieve humanity of their own burdens; just tools to get what you need for them. You’d agree, wouldn’t you, that food security, world peace, living without fear of life and limb would be good for everybody?”
“But,” the Galilean began. Satan interrupted.
“What I am offering you today – and I have permission to do it; this is my job and I don’t have to see a sales manager or anybody else – are in fact opportunities; once in a life time opportunities. Whaddaya say?”
“What about that ‘worship’ thing,” wondered the Galilean? “That off the table?”
Satan hesitated, then cajoled. “We call it something else. How does ‘unreserved admiration’ sound?”
“Sounds like,” speculated the Galilean, “you’ve had some marketing classes. But, you know, there’s still that cross.”
“So,” Satan ventured cautiously, “if you can’t get around it, no deal?”
“What did that old man in Uz tell you? ‘Slay me though He might, I will wait for Him.’” (Job 13:15)