Have you ever sifted flour? When I grew up, we had a sifter in our flour bin, and it made this fun scratchy sound, like rubbing sandpaper. It was all the more curious because it looked like scissors connected to a big tin cup, and when I squeezed the scissor handles together, the flour would shake through the little grate at the bottom of the tin cup in a fluffy flour cloud. When I was really little, this sifter contraption was fascinating to me. I loved sitting on the kitchen counter with the flour bin and sifter, trying to figure out how it worked and make flour messes until my mom intervened with a plate and mess prevention instructions.
To this day, I still think the sifting thing is really interesting. Oftentimes, a cake recipe will give instructions to sift the flour to help the batter stay light and airy rather than heavy and dense. Sifting is helpful to keep things fluffy rather than grounded.
Sifting is good for cakes, but it can be bad for people. I say this because of Jesus’ words in Luke 22:31-32, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” When Jesus spoke these words, it was during the Last Supper and right before Gethsemane, where Judas betrayed Him.
I’ve been thinking about Jesus telling Peter that Satan wanted to sift Peter. When I think about Satan and what he does, it reminds me of some interesting verses that highlight his sifting activities and his endgame:
- John 8:44, “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
- Revelation 12:10, “ . . . for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.”
- John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
From these verses, we see that Satan wants to sift us, to dislodge, disconnect and isolate us from God, using lies, distortion, accusation, and I would include strife. From my observations, the enemy has been very successful in his sifting work, particularly over the last year. I say this because I see lots of people who were strong Jesus’ followers getting distracted with lots of sifting topics, including politics, economics, masks, COVID, social upheaval, fear, and heaps more.
I want to issue a clarion call to come back to our first love, wake up and stop letting the enemy deceive and trick us with things that are important but not central to staying in love with Jesus. Have politics become more important to you than Jesus? Has healthcare (the vaccination, difficulty getting medical care, etc.) distracted you from staying in love with Jesus? Have you become offended with your pastor or someone in your church for not being more vocal about immorality, political preferences, agreeing with your opinion about wearing a mask (or not wearing one), or taking a stronger stand on an issue that’s important to you?
I know that when I write this blog, I’m taking a big risk that someone will read it and get offended. But I’m willing to take the risk because I think Satan wants to sift and distract us from our first love and the primary distinction of being a Jesus-follower, based on John 13:35, which is genuine love.
Over the last year, with all the upheaval, uncertainty, fear, grief, loss, political dissent, worry, riots, pandemic, employment challenges, and so much more, have we lost our first love? Have we fallen out of love with Jesus? Has Satan successfully sifted us? If you currently find yourself in a sifted existence, take heart because I believe that Jesus has prayed for you, just like He prayed for Peter. You have a future with Jesus – come back to your first love. Remember when you fell in love with Jesus and let that memory warm your heart and ground your feet to keep walking with Jesus so that you become aware of Satan’s efforts to sift you. Let’s shift Satan’s sift and determine to stay grounded in Jesus’ love.