Eat Or Be Eaten
Let’s identify the real war zone. The Bible represents Satan as the ultimate agent of evil. No one perceived this more clearly than the well-known Oxford medievalist and lay theologian C. S. Lewis.
In Screwtape, he used a literary device called “moral inversion” to expose evil’s relational process, which he viewed as “spiritual cannibalism.” Just how does a “hungry hell” work itself out? Writes Lewis:
My symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state…, an official society held together entirely by fear and greed…. “Dog eat dog” is the principle of the whole organization. Everyone wishes everyone else’s discrediting, demotion and ruin; everyone is an expert in the confidential report, the pretended alliance, the stab in the back…. Every now and then…their hypocritical politeness gets punctured, and the scalding lava of their hatred spurts out.
The voracious Screwtape is a biblical figure—biblical in the sense that it is precisely the same metaphor Peter uses in his First Epistle: evil’s howling hunger, “looking for someone to devour.” Peter’s image is rooted in Hebrew thinking, as seen in the Psalm quoted by Jesus on the cross: “They come at me with open jaws, like roaring lions attacking their prey.” What a graphic portrayal of evil in relationships: everyone chewing on each other and being chewed on!
We devour others, but there is no nourishment in it. Nothing satisfies; nothing helps us grow. How can we end this endless cycle of eat or be eaten? Where else but in the One who said: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life…. My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” And they replied, “Lord, give us this bread always!”
Referring to the Last Supper, Buckner Fanning once said, “It was not the Last Supper. No, we’ve misnamed it. It was the First Supper!” It is this table that sanctifies every other table: “Whether you eat or drink, do it all to the glory of God.” Yes, there is an option besides “eat or be eaten.” We can eat from the Bread of Life.
The genuine believer tastes the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come (Hebrews 6:5), but he may also drink deeply and eat heartily of both even in the present life. Why do we snack at the cheap lunch counters of this age when we are invited guests to the Gospel feast? There is an abundance of food, and all is provided on the tables of God’s grace.
How’s your appetite today? Are you fed up yet with the husks of the swine and the cheap satisfactions of this poor world? If so, the manna of heaven awaits you.
August 21, 2003
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.