‘See the wise and wicked ones / Who feed upon life’s sacred fire.” These are lines from Gordon Lightfoot’s song Don Quixote, and they highlight an important truth: both the wise and the wicked feed off the same energy. And it’s good energy, sacred energy, divine energy, irrespective of its use. The greedy and the violent feed off the same energy as do the wise and the saints. There’s one source of energy and, even though it can be irresponsibly, selfishly and horrifically misused, it remains always God’s energy.

Unfortunately, we don’t often think of things that way. Recently I was listening to a very discouraged man who, looking at the selfishness, greed and violence in our world, blamed it all on the Devil. “It must be the Antichrist,” he said. “How else do you explain all this, so many people breaking basically every commandment?”

He’s right in his assessment that the selfishness, greed and violence we see in our world today are Antichrist (though perhaps not the Antichrist spoken of in Scripture). However, he’s wrong about where selfishness, greed and violence are drawing their energy from. The energy they are drawing upon comes from God, not from the Devil.

What we see in all the negative things that make up so much of the evening news each day is not evil energy but rather the misuse of sacred energy. Evil deeds are not the result of evil energies but the result of the misuse of sacred energy. Whether you consider the Devil a person or a metaphor, either way, he has no other origin than from God. God created the Devil, and created him good. His wickedness results from the misuse of that goodness.

All energy comes from God and all energy is good, but it can be wickedly misused. Moreover, it’s ironic that the ones who seem to drink most deeply from the wellsprings of divine energy are, invariably, the best and the worst, the wise and the wicked, saints and sinners. These mainline the fire.

The rest of us, living in the gap between saints and sinners, tend to struggle more to actually catch fire, to truly drink deeply from the wellsprings of divine energy. Our struggle isn’t so much in misusing divine energy, but rather in not succumbing to chronic numbness, depression, fatigue, flatness, bitterness, envy and the kind of discouragement which has us going through life lacking fire and forever protesting that we have a right to be uncreative and unhappy. Great saints and great sinners don’t live lives of “quiet desperation”; they drink deeply sacred energy, become inflamed by that fire, and make that the source for either their extraordinary wisdom or their wild wickedness.

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