1 Peter 5: 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
I remember shinny ice hockey as a kid. Hockey was one of the sports my parents said I couldn’t play competitively as it is incredibly expensive, and we certainly didn’t have the money for that. But like every other sport, I’d still find a way to play, at least for fun. I remember getting an old bag of hockey gear at a garage sale, which included some old shin pads, shoulder pads, elbow pads, and of course, a jock. Most of this stuff didn’t fit me right but it was something. When I did go out and play, what shocked me was how often I got hit in an area that wasn’t covered. It didn’t matter that 60% of my body was covered, I’d always get the puck where there was no protection – the back of my leg, the side of my stomach, or my upper arm.
I’m sure every athlete can relate to the feeling of getting hit with a puck, ball, or even a cleat to an unprotected area. It takes every bit of godliness not to scream an expletive as the sting radiates throughout your body. “Of course, it had to miss my shin guard by one inch! It’s as if it’s a flesh seeking missile.”
I have often pondered about today’s scripture in 1 Peter 5:8. ”8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” It has been extremely helpful in my life to picture who Satan is. On one hand he is a formidable enemy that we should be concerned about, and yet on the other hand (vs. 9) we read that we have the ability to “resist him”. In the name of Christ, as children of God, we have the supernatural power to keep our adversary at bay.
But what happens when we allow holes in our fence? We are encouraged in this passage to “Be alert and of sober mind”, so clearly one such hole can come from being careless. One of the most common forms of carelessness I have seen is the Lone Ranger. I have met many, many Christians who have stopped attending church for various reasons. Some because they were hurt, and others because their lives got too busy (sadly, often because of sports). Read 1 Peter 5: 1-11 and you will see that the context of today’s scripture is the functioning of the local church. It begins by addressing the “elders among you”. These elders are implored to be good shepherds of the flock who has been “entrusted” to them. Some may say, “I’ve never been a part of a church with elders like that”. To that I say: “Go find another church!”, because they exist. Earnestly pray to the Lord and I am confident he will lead you to such a community.
The passage goes on to talk to those “who are younger” (vs. 5). Not surprisingly he encourages them to “clothe yourselves with humility”, because “God opposes the proud”. Pride is one of the largest holes you can have in your spiritual fence and that hole is a welcome gate for Satan. Proud people don’t accept the correction and rebuke that God intends for them to receive (2 Timothy 4:2). They ignore the advice of people that God introduces into their lives to point out their blind spots. Proud people don’t admit and confess their sins (James 5:16), and they don’t lead lives of accountability (Luke 17:3).
How is your spiritual fence looking? It is a fact that your adversary is prowling around like a lion. If you had children playing in your yard, would you leave that fence open? No, you’d build it twice as strong and twice as high. Your spiritual fence is infinitely more important than a physical one. Go and shore it up!