I've been thinking about the rather tiresome game of rock, paper, scissors. The aim of the game is to choose an option that is more powerful than your opponents. You lose if your option is less powerful, you draw if you chose the same option as your opponent. It isn't exciting. But could this (to me) rather sad endeavour (though all kudos to those who take it seriously and attend RPS championships and all that) actually teach us something quite profound? I think it can.
In our constant battles of spiritual warfare, could we not think of our enemy as perhaps challenging us to a game of RPS, a bit like the way Death played a game of Twister with Bill and Ted (but I digress).
Actually, it is a it more complicated than that as we can't see our opponent, nor can we see his hand, all we see is the consequences of us choosing the wrong option. Indeed we don't actually know who our enemy is, most of the time. It is usually an amalgam of the World, the Flesh and the Devil, specially dressed up in such a way as to go for own particular weaknesses. Best not parley with it, best just to play your hand and be ready to play again if your choice isn't strong enough.
So what 3 "hand shapes" can we play?
We can invoke our will.
We can invoke our heart.
We can invoke our intellect.
We must be ready to invoke all three.
The will: will to follow/live all the teachings of the church, even the ones you struggle with. And if that is too much of a struggle, just try the follow all the Beatitudes (just!!!). You will find that by wanting to live the Beatitudes, your niggles over Church teaching will lessen, weakening considerably the hand of your enemy. The pitfall of the will is that if your enemy is playing with your heart and dredging up hurtful memories to colour your feelings, the will can crumple.
The heart: act out of love for God and neighbour. That disinterested love that is for their benefit only. Desire to give God glory for His own sake. Desire to do the best for your neighbour at whatever the cost. Be impossibly romantic over this. Give, give, give and give with joy. The pitfall with the heart is if your enemy is invoking your intellect and telling you that God loves you and will always forgive these things that you are tempted to do. The enemy will play with your pride and tell you that your niggles with Church teaching are justified and that really through your cleverness you can take the Church into a new millennium of radical change to make God's love all the more apparent to the great unwashed.
The intellect: Be rational. Remember that God allows certain temptations to happen to us but gives us the faculties to overcome them and become stronger by overcoming them. Think how embarrassing it would be to confess THAT sin in the confessional. Think of a thousand things that are more pleasurable and that you can be proud of appreciating because God gave you the ability to appreciate them; like watching a sunset, listening to beautiful music, seeing the great churches of Europe, playing Twister with your children.... Here the analogy with RPS breaks down a bit because the intellect is actually quite a bit stronger than we usually give it credit. It can certainly overcome the enemy playing with your heart, it can overcome the enemy trying to break your will, it can even overcome the enemy attempting to play with your intellect, provided you dump your selfish pride.
So, go play "spiritual rocks, paper, scissors" with your enemy and if that doesn't work, perhaps have a Twister mat to hand.