Volume 15, No. 6 (June 2020)
Again with apologies to C.S. Lewis and his Screwtape Letters, here is another letter from Screwtape’s relative Tapescrew, writing to his own nephew Woodworm and speaking to issues facing worship in our churches today.
My dear Woodworm,
On earth they are presently in what I like to call the “Do It Yourself” age. Everywhere you look, men and women are in a relentless pursuit of independence: financial independence, political independence, independence from responsibility, independence from objective standards of behavior, independence from marriage vows, independence from unwanted pregnancies, independence from all restraints and limitations to their so-called “self-fulfillment” and “self-expression.” Their singers insist “I did it my way;” their poets proclaim “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul;” their business tycoons boast of being “self-made men;” their authors write “self-help” books by the truckload; their commercials declare, “Have it your way . . because you’re worth it.”
Of course, “do it yourself” is the foundation of religion, and as such it has been an effective tool which we have used to blind earthly creatures from the Enemy’s efforts to buy their release. Independence is the root of all sin– independence from God, from His claim to one’s sole allegiance, from His demands on one’s life—and this is of course the way which our Father in Hell charted for us so long ago.
Of course, we cringe and grieve when any of the miserable creatures actually take the step of acknowledging their ultimate dependence on the enemy, and become Christians. HOWEVER, all is not lost even with these. We can still wreak such havoc as to make them largely ineffective. The spirit of the age, which we have so skillfully woven through the very fabric of their society, can infect them as well and derail them from being constructive agents for the Enemy.
You see, no sooner do these creatures cast their loyalty upon Him than we are right back on the job, clogging their minds with the nagging question, “What should I do??” In their well-meaning compulsion to “get busy for God,” they forget (or rather, we drown out) their just-learned dependence on the Enemy and assume that they need to take it from there. And so they do their best to do what they call “living the Christian life” in their own strength. It’s such fun to watch them scurry about like ants at a picnic! We are delighted to let them make this futile attempt at self-determination, because they run out of steam pretty quickly and are left wondering why they sense no victory, why it seems so hard, why they’re not changing, why they can’t get it together. And we gloat, knowing that we have fogged their minds and avoided that dependence on the Enemy’s power which is our only true fear.
In a subtle way their worship is similarly infected by the “Do It Yourself” mentality, and when it is merely an exercise of self-effort it is of course ultimately doomed to failure. As long as we keep them trying to impress each other or the Enemy Himself with the size, quality, or enthusiasm of their worship activities, there’s no real danger of anything profound or eternally significant happening. It’s really quite fun just to sit back and watch the little vermin struggling to “make worship happen,” trying to force their way into the Enemy’s presence, as though He had to be cajoled into giving them an audience! If they only knew the truth about the power of true worship, we’d be running for cover! But as long as we can keep their focus on what they do rather than what the Enemy has done, then they’ll be left in a constant state of wondering whether it was good enough.
Having been “saved by grace” as they call it (and how we shudder at those words!), they revert to religion and try to reach the Enemy, without ever being quite certain that they will “make the cut.” “Do It Yourself” worship keeps them guessing—which is the surest way to keep them off-balance – which is of course right where we want them! As long as they resist full dependence on God in their worship, and in their walk, they will spin their wheels without making much progress—which is, of course, just fine with us.
your uncle Tapescrew
by Ron Man; reprint by permission from Reformed Worship
© 2010 Worship Ministries