One of the most successful comedians of the 1970s was Flip Wilson. His sketch comedy show spawned memes long before the internet, including the phrase What You See Is What You Get, or WISIYG to our coding friends, and “The devil made me do it.”
I couldn’t help but think about that second phrase as I was getting ready for today because we’re going to be talking about the devil today – sort of. We’re going to be talking about the TV show Lucifer today – a sort of companion piece to last week’s exploration of The Good Place.
Lucifer is a show about, well… the devil. It’s based on a comic, and the premise is that Lucifer decides he doesn’t want to be king of Hell anymore. So he moves to Los Angeles, opens a night club and starts helping the police solve crimes.
Needless to say, there’s not much about the show that’s, uh, biblically accurate. But it does offer some surprisingly insightful observations about human nature, evil and the possibility of transformation.
My favorite shtick in the show is that Lucifer doesn’t hide who he is. He tells literally everyone he’s the devil (and, of course, pretty much no one believes him).
So he gets really mad when people don’t take responsibility for their own actions. He’s heard “the devil made me do it” a few too many times. And he insists, over and over, that he – the devil – isn’t responsible for evil in the world. He – the devil – isn’t responsible for the sins people commit. Rather, we’re responsible for our own actions.
It’s surprising, but a show about the devil turns out to be a show about what it takes to change, to heal from old wounds and refuse to let them dictate how we live and how we treat each other. A show about the devil turns out to be about our longing for God, our need to be loved just as we are and to be made new.