Have you ever seen one of those TV nature shows about lions and their prey? On the TV screen we see hundreds of innocent wildebeests standing there innocently while a lion quietly prowls on the edge of the herd looking for the weaker ones. The lion waits and watches. A few of the wildebeests look up and sniff the air, sensing that something isn’t right. A sense of unrest permeates the air. And then, at just the right moment, the lion starts running towards the pack at high speed. This sets them all in a frenzy and they start running – all of them – in the same direction. Unfortunately, there are always a few stragglers. They are sickly, or weak and old, or perhaps young and naive. We watch as the lions chooses his prey and then pounces on it. His powerful claws rip into its fur and take it down to its knees. And then he uses his powerful jaws to kill the poor, innocent creature. About that time, they break to commercial and we are left feeling sad and sorry for the ill-fated beast that met death so violently.
Did you ever think about why Peter talks about the devil being like a lion? I Peter 5:8 says: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
I think Peter wrote that because he knows that we are just like those wildebeests. Some of us are leaders in the pack and we are the ones that shout “run” and lead the pack away from danger. Others of us aren’t leaders but we are careful to keep ourselves protected by keeping our eyes open and staying safely away from the edges. And then there are those of us who just seem to always want to be occupying the edge. We are crippled and weak spiritually and we can’t keep up with the group. Or we are naive and think we don’t need Jesus to help us live on a daily basis, trying to make it on our own strength.
And then there are those who are weak just because of where they find themselves in life. Some are young and naive and need our protection from pride and foolish choices as they grow in discernment and wisdom. Some are old and weak and need our help to protect them from falling prey to things like depression, loneliness, and self-pity.
I know it is not very flattering to compare people to a great big bunch of wildebeests, but I find it amazing how God directed Peter to write that verse about the devil. We can never forget that the devil is seeking to devour us! He is setting temptations before us and he is spotting the weak and sickly Christians among us. And while he can never take our salvation away, he is trying to destroy our faith and render us ineffective for the cause of Christ. He is trying to steal our joy and our peace. He is trying to extinguish our gospel light.
The sad thing is we often allow him to do so, don’t we? We become so disenchanted with life and so frustrated by outward circumstances that we are often rendered ineffective. Or we become so enamored with the world that we lose sight of what is most important in life.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be one of those poor creatures on the edges. I would prefer to remain safely among godly Christian friends and leaders. I want to help encourage and protect. But it is only by relying on Jesus and filling our minds with His Word and praying without ceasing that we can elude the clutches of the roaring lion.
9 thoughts on “Safe or on the edge?”
I’ve read that verse many times, and have used it on many occasions as well, but I never stopped to really think about the word picture that Peter was painting for us at the depth you’ve explained here. Thank you for posting these thoughts. It was a real blessing for me this morning!
Thanks so much for taking the time to share that with me :)
Leslie, I absolutely agree with the interpretation of the verse but I want to remind you that Jesus left his disciples with a command. They were to go into the world and be fishers of men. We can’t obey that command if we don’t leave the comforts of our Christian circle relying on the Holy Spirit to guide us and protect us. Thank you for your post, but don’t forget that Jesus came here to heal the sick and if we are to be more like Him then it is our job to be in the world but not of the world.
I agree with you. I wasn’t referring to not being in the world to witness. I am so sorry if that is what you took from it. Our main job as believers is to share the gospel and I would be mortified if anyone took anything differently from any of my posts. My post was to caution believers to keep their hearts in the right place and to protect themselves from the world’s system (not the world’s people). I want to encourage Christians to be discerning and more concerned about pleasing God than pleasing people while they witness. Hope that clarifies it a bit.
Thanks so much for your post and I absolutely agree with Paul’s heed, but I want to remind you of the last command that Jesus left with his disciples. They were to go to the ends of the earth to be fishers of men. We have to make sure that we aren’t falling prey to the enemy by leading comfortable lives out of the world. We can’t be effective for Christ that way either. We have to leave our safe Christian communties to reach the lost and hurting all the while relying on the Holy Spirit and knowing that He is with us, “always to the very end of the age.” Thank you for taking the time to challenge us in our thinking.
oop-s thought I lost it because I hadnt logged on. Leave it to my computer ineptness!!
No problem. And thanks for your comment. I would hate to be misunderstood about something so important!
I forget where i read this, but the tension between the world and a Christian should be like a boat and water. The boat was designed to be in the water, but when water gets in the boat, watch out. Too much water in the boot and it sinks. That is what I took from this post. As a rule, those I like to spend time with are Christians. I do spend a lot of time with non-Christians at work and I use that time to share with them as much as possible, but when I have a choice I look for like-minded people to spend time with. Bad company corrupts good habits.
Thanks Leslie for the encouragement and exhortation.
Thanks, Trent! That is exactly what I was trying to say.