Their website bio begins, “LOST AND FOUND, Michael Bridges and George Baum, have been traveling around the world performing concerts of their original music and making friends in the process, since they were in high school. Yet, just as they started their musical tours by riding bicycles coast to coast and performing on borrowed instruments wherever they were welcomed, they continue to encourage all who hear them to ‘do what you can with what you have for the glory of God,’ as they make their unique sound with two instruments and their voices.” When I heard them for the first time back in their bicycle days of the late 1980’s I learned the words of what would become their preeminent song simply titled “Lions”. Satan prowls like a roaring lion Seeking whom he will devour Yet I know that though he keeps on trying He’s no match for Jesus’ power, baby Oh them lions they can eat my body But they can’t swallow my soul They keep on trying to crash my party But they can’t get control No way, baby. Even demons believe and tremble But they try to ruin your life the same Yet I know that when the saints assemble Satan runs at every sign of Jesus’ name. This song took on a special relevance for me this week and I realized how true the scripture it and the scripture its lyrics are based on are. Sun Tzu wrote in his treatise The Art of War, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” I made my discovery about the prowling lion, evil, Satan, the adversary, the imposter in an interesting way. I learned from being evil. (Cue sinister and ominous music and notice the little guy behind me. I am the organizer and upcoming host for a youth online game night coming up in October and I had some ideas for some games, but then I heard the young people in the group talking about a game they really wanted to play together. It’s currently about the hottest thing out there and is inexpensive so I convinced my son to help me set up a group of his friends to allow an old guy to play with them to see what it was about. Among Us puts four to ten players in the astronaut gear of a spaceship crew. One or three of the crew’s members are “imposters” whose objective is to kill everyone else while other players try to escape unharmed. And I would add to apply intrigue and guile to get the crew to judge, reject and kill one or more of their own. Tactics suggested are, “spare crewmates that others find suspicious even if you find yourself in a situation where you can kill them easily. This allows you to alleviate early pressure, misdirect accusations to a scapegoat crewmate.” When you play as the imposter you have to be cunning and try to blend in, then prowl like a lion and tag out or kill a crewmate. When that crewmate is discovered it’s time to lie, act innocent, sow dissension, create mistrust, create false memories, offer devious suggestions, argue, feign being hurt at the slightest accusation, accuse the innocent, and fade into the background. It’s amazing how people turn against one another and become suspicious of one another and make the poor decision to eject another crewmate into space, thus weakening their team one by one. The Theologian Douglas John Hall has noted that when one reads the New Testament two things become readily apparent regarding the church: (1) it is God’s chosen instrument for accomplishing the mission of God upon the Earth; (2) something seems to have gone terribly wrong with that instrument. In the game the chief strategy should be for the crew to throw themselves at the tasks that are ultimately pretty simple and quick and secure victory by working together and each doing their part. But then enter the element of fear. It says in 2 corinthians And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. So knowing there is an imposter in their midst the crew becomes inept at tasks, Constantly messing up out of fear. Letting go of a handle too fast or swiping a card too quickly, and absolutely preoccupied with rooting out real or perceived evildoers. Their engagement with the tasks become secondary to the game of detective, judge and jury and pawns of the true imposter. We see the lion prowling in the lessons for today. In Ezekiel God’s crew are obviously fretting over who pays the penalty, who is guilty and for what reason, can you be guilty by association, In the alternate first lesson reading the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” So the Israelites are playing the game but they are supposing all good is gone. Paul is dealing with the Philippians who are playing and have finding reasons for division, pleading with Euodia and Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord and asking all of the people to find some humility within themselves and to continue to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” And then Jesus who has just driven the moneychangers and business people out of the temple to take a stand for those oppressed by a system that existed to serve itself, is assailed and accused by a group fearful of losing their power and privilege. One wrong word and Jesus goes out the airlock. Why is it so hard to just do the tasks? We are not talking about works to achieve or gain or earn salvation. Christ has granted us salvation through his death and resurrection. We are talking about sanctification which is accomplishing the wholeness of salvation, completing the package, returning what God asks of us out of thankfulness for what Jesus first did for us. What is that God requires of us? The prophet Micah tells us in chapter 6, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Jesus humbled himself to doing the tasks and yet the imposter still made a play at him, yet we see that we too can walk without fear as the lion falters at every mention of Jesus’ name. These are our tasks. We can not set ourselves up there and become preoccupied with God’s own tasks of judgment and discerning righteousness. The adverb “humbly” moves us away from arrogance and the egocentric need to always be better than others, and living with a tone of God’s will be done over our own right here on earth like it is in heaven. How close would we be to heaven, to the kingdom of God if all of humankind adhered to a humility like this. Each of the tasks we are given are not a simple time killer in a computer game but each of our works is an investment in other human beings, in relationships, in human lives and their peace and welfare. In our works the naked will be clothed, the oppressed freed, the hungry fed. Those suffering and lonely will be befriended, the mourning will be comforted, the sick will be tended and healed. It says in 2nd Peter the first chapter, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. There is joy to be found in doing the tasks that God has asked of us, we must simply set aside the fear, or arrogance or greed or self-centeredness or whatever it is that keeps us from them and their completion. Just like the game, the imposter, the adversary, evil is among us, and the Israelites, in their fear that he evoked cried out, “Is the Lord among us or not?” I assure you that you have no need for fear as that lion trembles at even the mention of Jesus’ name, for it is through Christ’s resurrection that what is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And that is how the game is won.