But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. [2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)]
As a Christian, I don’t believe in creatures like hobgoblins, witches, ghouls, zombies, or ghosts. I do, however, believe in vampires, just not the fictional undead who live in coffins, shape-shift into bats, have fangs but no reflection, and suck blood from the necks of the unsuspecting. The ones I’ve met are people whose behavior can suck the life right out of us faster than a swarm of mosquitoes!
Saturday Night Live calls one species of vampire “Debbie Downer”. She (or he) sucks the joy out of a room faster than a Miele or Dyson can vacuum up cookie crumbs. Consummate pessimists, they carry a dark cloud of doom with them and continually rain on your parade with tales of tragedy and catastrophe. Then there are the Narcissists—the uncaring, selfish, and self-centered “me first” kind of people. Takers, they neither share nor give (unless it directly benefits them). Closely related are the Talkers—the “listen to me” people. Convinced they know everything, they drone on and on, never let anyone get a word in edgewise, and their ears are mere ornaments on the side of the heads. Then, we have the Martyrs—the suffering victims with their “poor me” complaints. Determined to remain miserable, “yes, but…” is their response to any helpful suggestion. The Bullies are the “my way or the highway” kind of vampires who dictate and demean, intimidate and insult, command and criticize, and browbeat and badger their way through life. Finally, there are the Drama Queens and Kings for whom everything (both big and little) creates a crisis of massive proportions. Worse, they are determined to entangle us in their melodrama, quarrels, and vendettas. Real vampires like these are some of the weapons Satan frequently uses against us.
But, before pridefully pointing fingers at people we know who might fit these descriptions, we should take a hard look at ourselves to make sure we’re not one of them! I suspect that, at one time or another, each of us have been a little like them all!
Legend has it that vampires can’t enter your home unless you invite them in. I don’t know about Dracula, but that holds true for these vampires. While God call us to love, pray for, forgive and, as much as possible, “live peaceably with all” [Romans 12:8], He never tells us we must welcome these vampires into our lives, willingly open our collars, bare our necks, and submit to their torture! Granted, some of them may be unavoidable and could be in our families. Nevertheless, in 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul assures us that a means of escape comes with every temptation! These vampires only can suck the joy, peace, patience, gentleness, and love out of us if we allow them to do so.
As I recall, exposure to the sun or a crucifix was the way to finish off a vampire in the old movies. The power of the Son and cross continue to defeat the life-sucking vampires we face today. While some of them are unavoidable, we can limit our exposure to them and, with the power of Jesus, we can keep them from sucking the life out of us. We can stand up for ourselves, control our reactions to challenging people and situations, set healthy boundaries, and choose God’s truth and way. As children of God, we are valuable, loved, and forgiven. Nothing and no one should be allowed to rob us of His joy and peace. With the power of the Son and the cross of Christ, we can defeat vampires, ghosts, and anything else that goes bump in the night!