Lucifer: Is Faith Truly Lose/Lose? Guest Chapter By Chris North
This is a guest chapter from Chris North.
Have you ever wondered what might happen if the lord of Hell himself decided to abandon his post and take an extended vacation amongst humanity on earth? Well thanks to Fox and, now, Netflix’s series Lucifer, you can wonder no more. In the series, based on Neil Gaiman’s character from the Sandman Universe (which, in turn, is based on the fallen angel from the Bible), as well as his own eponymous series, Lucifer has left Hell to stay in the City of Angels where he simultaneously runs a premier nightclub called LUX and solves crimes with Detective Chloe Decker. During the course of the series, Lucifer explores his own mortality and morality, his anger issues with God, and the appeal of humanity, both through working with the police as well as engaging in therapy. He also thrives on punishing those who are guilty, so catching bad guys with the LAPD seems like the ideal career move for the Prince of Darkness.
In the first season, in the episode “A Priest Walks into a Bar,” we meet Father Frank, a sinner turned saint who strives, with varying degrees of success, to keep the youth of his church from falling into the clutches of the local drug dealer. Lucifer and Detective Chloe are called upon to investigate the murder of said drug dealer and find themselves both suspecting and, later, protecting Father Frank from the true villainsof the episode. While initially attempting to belittle, prove untrue and, simply, poke holes in the priest’s devout faith in God, Lucifer finds himself forming an unlikely admiration for and friendship with Father Frank, which becomes especially apparent in a scene where they play an instrumental piano duet of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” This is due largely because of the genuine and authentic nature that Frank has about his own past with drugs and crime, his sins and how, even as a servant of God, he is not perfect, but does his best to follow whatever God’s plan may be. Toward the end of the episode, Frank is inadvertently killed by a rival drug dealer, much to Lucifer’s dismay. He later confronts God, shouting “ you cruel, manipulative b&@$#%*d! Was this all part of Your plan? It's all just a game to You, isn't it? Eh? Well, I know punishment, and he did not deserve that. He followed Your stupid rules and it still wasn't good enough! So what does it take to please You? Break Your rules and you fall! Follow them and you still lose?! Doesn't matter whether you're a sinner! Doesn't matter whether you're a saint! Nobody can win, so what's the point? What's the bloody point?”
This was a painful, heartbreaking and all too familiar scene to watch but when I saw it, I immediately thought of Job and what God allowed him to go through. Lucifer (the Biblical one) confronts God saying that he’s had protection around Job and that was the only reason he was righteous and served God. “8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” 9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Job 1:8-12 Following this conversation, God allowed all manner of unpleasant things to happen to Job. He was disfigured, lost all of his livestock, his servants and his children were struck dead, his house collapsed in a freak storm and Job was left destitute. His wife begged him to curse God, but Job refused. Eventually, though, Job had a moment of crying out to God, similar to the way Lucifer did after losing his new and unlikely friend: “Know then that God has wronged me And has closed His net around me. “Behold, I cry, ‘Violence!’ but I get no answer; I shout for help, but there is no justice. He has walled up my way so that I cannot pass, And He has put darkness on my paths. He has stripped my honor from me And removed the crown from my head. He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone; And He has uprooted my hope like a tree. He has also kindled His anger against me And considered me as His enemy.” Job 19:6-11 In thinking about these two events, it struck me that, more than once, I have felt the way that both Lucifer and Job have. Faith in God must be lose/lose. Do the right thing and bad consequences; do the wrong thing, more bad consequences. God is cruel, vindictive and angry and against me and I just can’t seem to win, no matter what I do. There has to be more to faith than that, right? As he’s dying from his wounds however, Father Frank says to Lucifer, who had rushed to his side: “At first I didn't understand why God put you in my path, but then it hit me. Maybe he put me in yours.” When we think about the bad, frustrating, or even tragic things that God allows into our life, it's vital to remember a few things:
He is always with you - “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
He knows what’s going on and He loves you - “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future, then you will call on me and come and pray to me and I will listen.” Jeremiah 29:11-12
He is using you for something greater, beyond yourself, your understanding and your circumstances. - “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” Genesis 50:20 / “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28
This last one took me a long time to understand. God allowed me to go through various painful and tragic things in my life, not only for my own growth, but to prepare me to help people who are in need as well or simply going through the same thing that I’ve been able to either come on the other side of, or just not let control me anymore. This is what Father Frank came to realize: that he was placed in Lucifer’s path to show him that, perhaps, God still had a plan for him and to not give up on the idea of God using him for something that he simply cannot see or understand. Going through hardships sucks. It truly does. And it can be so easy to lash out at God the way Lucifer did. Why would God allow bad things to happen to those whom He says He loves, let alone those who serve Him? The truth is that we may never know, and can be hard to swallow. But that does not make faith lose/lose, but rather more like live/learn. Job was consistently tempted by his remaining family and friends to curse God and be done with him for all the pain he was suffering through. But Job remained steadfast and true. He continued to cry out to God and prayed for his friends, and in doing so, gained favor from God. He was blessed far beyond what he had before with more livestock, more land, more riches, and more children to pass his legacy on to. Yes, God allowed him to go through some pretty terrible things, but never abandoned him and rewarded his faithfulness. God also used Job as a barometer and example for his friends. Now, God probably won’t use your hardships to reach a fallen angel like Lucifer, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone who needs your story and your guidance to get through to the other side. Our story is part of what shaped who we are and you just might be an integral part of someone else’s story. Chris North is a lifelong geek, movie buff, comic book reader and fan of all things Broadway and horror. He lives in NJ with his wife, Marissa and dog, Dixon. Aside from his many geeky obsessions, he has a passion for trying to find Jesus in the unexpected. His IG is @browncoatzombie